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Public Engagement Plan

Corey Golla

The Center for Public Education argues that public education has five core


A tuition-free education for all students.

The promise of equal education opportunities no matter race,
religion, or ability
A commitment to high standards and high expectations for all
A system of governance that ensures public accountability
A benefit to society by teaching democratic principles and common
values (Resnick, 2004)
To achieve these noble aims requires a community of citizens, employers,

parents, students, and educators to come together to clearly understand the

goals and progress of the schools that serve as the foundation of their

community and the bulwark of their success. As such it is imperative that school

systems maintain a strategic and comprehensive plan to engage the community,

board of education, families, and employees in the development of a vision, the

strategic planning process, progress monitoring, and improvement. Failure to

establish this community will result in results that are well below the standards

that our students deserve. Our engagement plan will fulfill these obligations.

Based on the model presently used in the School District of Menomonee Falls

and developed in partnership with partners engaged with Studer Education and

the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, our plan will engage

all stakeholders in the planning, monitoring, and improvement of our core work.
As public educators it is our obligation to engage the community we serve

to assure that our vision is shared, our results meet their expectations, and we

work collectively with them to support students from the cradle to their career.

The plan to include this will include a five-year review of our mission. Rather

than allowing this to devolve into a debate over semantics we will purposefully

solicit input on what community members feel is critical to them in education and

ask them to discuss our current success in meeting their expectations. We will

conclude by reviewing this feedback against our existing mission to determine if

changes are needed. The mission statement is a general statement that likely

includes most values. The significance lies in the work we do to accomplish our


It will be critical to our partnership with local employers that we engage

them in meaningful conversations regarding their future needs in the workforce.

We are their succession plan. We can initiate the engagement in the five year

review but a more significant partnership will be forged through the establishment

of advisory committees that can guide programming and curriculum in our career

technical areas and in our career planning with students. These groups will

include employers, students, administrators, and teachers. They will meet twice

a year with the respective curricular leaders in the district.

Schools today are unfairly judged as failing or succeeding based on

student performance as if they serve the community in isolation from other

service sectors. Our engagement plan will include a collective impact team

comprised of leaders in education, social services, community groups, police, city

agencies, and health care that is modeled after the Strive Together theory of

action. (Strive, 2017) We will establish clear metrics aligned with the Redefining

Readiness standards and work to collectively support the families in our

community to pave the way to success for our children.

Finally, it will be important to maintain informal connections in the

community through civic associations like Rotary, Optimists, and Kiwanis. This is

an additional way to share your commitment and connect with citizens on a more

personal level. It will also pay dividends in understanding how schools are

perceived across the district.

The Board of Education has a responsibility to establish policy that reflects

the values of the community and assures that all students have an opportunity to

succeed in school. They are also expected to assure that the school is achieving

the goals established and allocating resources effectively. Successful school

systems will view their board as a partner and engage with them in meaningfully

so they can meet their responsibilities.

Our engagement plan with the board will begin with on boarding. In a

district committed to improvement and excellence everyone will have a coach

and that will include the board. They will be integral to the strategic planning

process and should have a basic but clear understanding of the improvement

principles that guide the work. This combined effort will serve our students and

serve as a framework to support them in meeting the demands of their

constituents. As they meet their responsibilities to the district they will be

provided with clear, consistent, and transparent reports each quarter so that they

clearly understand how the schools are progressing toward their goals. These

reports will illustrate the historic trends in the key areas as well as the most

recent results and action plans. The board cannot be shielded from results that

are below what is expected. To sustain an effective partnership they will need to

fully understand the outcomes of the district they serve.

In addition to this partnership the board will also receive feedback from the

stakeholder surveys that is specific to their work. Parents and employees will be

asked to reflect on the boards leadership and service with specific items on the

engagement surveys. This will allow them to closely monitor their level of

support with these key stakeholders.

Districts often overlook students when they consider an engagement plan.

Given that they are the core of the work this is a grave oversight. Students

should be engaged in all three phases (planning, monitoring, and improving) of

the engagement plan as well. Students will serve critical roles in the hiring

process as equal members of the advisory committees that guide hiring. Their

insights into how candidates engage with students can be critical. Our classroom

improvement framework engages students in the design of classroom instruction

alongside teachers as they plan the best strategies to accomplish their learning

goals. Teachers will survey their students as a component of their Educator

Effectiveness plan that is used for evaluations. As a full system we engage

students in an annual survey comparable with what is used for employees and

parents. The results of this survey will be monitored over time and against
benchmark schools across the country that also partner with Studer Education,

our evidence based leadership consultants. Principals and district administrators

will also engage students through annual student forums with graduating seniors,

minority students, high performing students, struggling students, 8th and 5th

grade students. The focus will be three key questions.

What is working well for you at school?

What are working as barrier to your success?
Is there anyone you would recognize as being especially helpful or critical
to your success

These forums will allow us to clearly identify things that are working well for

students that we can build on while also identifying pain points that we can work

to improve. The third question helps us develop a culture of celebration in our

system that promotes the most meaningful work and develops a platform to re-

recruit our top performers.

Parents will be engaged alongside their students and have similar

opportunities to engage. Similar to other key stakeholder groups we will maintain

a consistent survey to understand their opinions and solicit feedback on our

work. We will continue to maintain a

positive relationship with our parent

groups as we have and those can serve

as the groups for our forum discussions.

In an effort to specifically target our

achievement gaps we will have two

forums that specifically target minority populations and our families who have

students with disabilities. This will help us understand those challenges more

intimately. Parents will also be represented on the career path advisory boards

as a way of engaging them in the design and program development work in the

district. Similar to the community engagement components it is also important

that parents are consistently engaged through informal contact as much as

possible. Administrator visibility and a strong commitment to service excellence

are critical to connect the main points of the engagement plan.

Our entire improvement process is centered on the Six Core Principles of

Improvement. (Carnegie Foundation, 2017). Each of these centers on employee

engagement; the first and last are specific to our workforce.

Make the work problem-specific and user-centered.

Accelerate improvement through networked communities
It is critical that districts engage their employees in all stages of the improvement

process meaningfully, transparently, and with clarity. Our aim will be to train

every employee to be a master problem solver deeply engaged and leading their


Every school system seems to be somewhere on the journey of

establishing evidence based leadership models. To meaningfully engage

employees in this work the goals of the district need to be clear and the reporting

of results need to be agile and actionable for teams. Our employees across the

system will be integrally engaged in the strategic planning phase each year.

Their teams will clearly understand how they connect to district goals and the
building scorecards.

The goals they set in

their PLCs, with their

students, and as part

of the evaluation

process will all be

aligned as carefully

and collectively as

possible so they are driving the key work in their environment.

We will continue to survey all employee groups twice a year with a format

similar to the other stakeholder groups. The rollout of results will be more

deliberate. Leaders will be expected to share the results and host feedback

sessions to fully understand the strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Specific questions will be asked around the lowest scored items so it is clear

what the staff was thinking as they responded. Similarly comment trends will be

linked to questions to better understand the results. Administrators will set goals

based on the results that will be reflected in their evaluation portfolio.

We will maintain a check-in

process where every employee will

interact with an administrator at least

twice a year around the same question

set used in the forum discussed earlier.

These check-ins will have the same goals; identify bright spots, pain points, and

celebrate excellence. Our entire approach with employees will be driven by trust,

the improvement principles, and the end goal of engaging everyone to empower

them to lead the problem solving and improvement in their work.

There is no more important work in our country as that being done in

health care and education. Our work is transformative and at its most dire levels,

life saving. Neither system can be done well without keen attention to outcomes

and improvement. Improvement can only come as a result of a careful

understanding or those we serve and those engaged in the work. As such, a full

commitment to a robust engagement plan for all those touched by the work is

critical. What is outlined here can serve that end effectively.

Reference List

Pilcher, J. and Studer, Q. (2015). Fire Starter Publications: Pensacola

Resnick, M.A. (2004). An Amerian Imperative: Public Education. In Center for
Public Education. Retrieved from
The Six Core Principles of Improvement. (2017). In Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching. Retrieved from
The StriveTogehter Theory of Action. (2017). In Retrieved