Saturday, May 18, 2013
By EMMANUEL CAULK
As we approach the start of the school year, I want to introduce myself to the community.
I am really excited to become part of this vibrant city as I assume the leadership of the Portland public schools.
I am committed to:
• Fostering an organizational culture that puts students first.
• Ensuring that resources are equitably distributed to remove barriers and provide students with access to rigorous curricula aligned to college and career readiness standards.
• Shaping a vision of academic success for ALL students.
My job is to make sure that students have the ability to excel and that teachers have the support they need to lead the way.
Together, we must all work to remove obstacles so that our students maintain focus and develop their talents fully.
I pledge to the Portland community my unwavering commitment to the welfare and the limitless possibilities of our students.
As we make decisions and enact policies, students will come first.
Here in Portland we have a dual moral imperative.
First, we must provide an environment in which students who are achieving below standards reach proficiency in the core academic areas faster and more completely.
Second, we must ensure that students who demonstrate proficiency, and those who exceed standards, have the opportunity to reach and exceed global proficiency standards in core academic areas.
Simply put, we want to help our children soar.
Research shows that the greatest determinant of learning is not a student's socioeconomic status, language or race.
It is classroom instruction.
Portland's teachers have impressed me with their professionalism and enthusiasm.
Many teachers have devoted the summer months to taking courses and other professional development so that they can improve classroom practices and student outcomes.
Classroom success must be facilitated and supported by transformational principals who lead and manage change.
Principals must support and coach teachers to improve teaching practice and to create dynamic, student-centered learning environments.
They must reach out to parents and encourage them to get involved in our schools.
Additionally, we need efficient and effective internal processes to support a culture of leadership and accountability.
Our noninstructional staff plays an important role in supporting teaching and learning.
That includes everyone from bus drivers to cafeteria workers, facilities and maintenance personnel, multilingual center personnel, nurses, school psychologists, secretaries and operational staff.
I believe that parents are our partners.
As such, we must build positive relationships with parents to promote engagement in their child's instructional learning as well as other facets of a child's schooling.
This includes serving on Parent-Teacher Associations and volunteering at our schools.
We must encourage our parents to serve on school advisory councils and on our school improvement planning committees.
As members of school advisory councils, parents will be able to participate in shared decision-making with principals to improve and enhance the instructional program.
It takes an entire community to ensure the success of its public schools.
Portland public schools must continue to expand strong public-private partnerships with business and industry.
We need the support of our nonprofit organizations, political leaders at the local, state and federal level, higher education partners, faith-based organizations and, most importantly, the residents of Portland.
Whether or not you have children in the school system, we welcome your involvement.
Please consider sharing your time, energy and talents to helping us improve our schools.
The community coordinators in our schools will help plug you into volunteer opportunities. Go online to http://www2.portlandschools.org/support-our-schools for details.
You are a valuable resource for our children and the betterment of our community.
Finally, I believe the future of Portland is inextricably linked to the success of our public schools.
I will begin my work in Portland by scheduling listening and learning sessions, town hall meetings and roundtable discussions to glean ideas from as wide a spectrum as possible.
Please keep an eye open for dates and times.
They will be posted at http://www.portlandschools.org.
I welcome your input.
Emmanuel Caulk is superintendent of Portland’s public schools.