Friday, August 13, 2010

The Politics of Choice

I was mildly amused today to see that a small tempest has erupted in a local school district’s teapot. It’s here at the Chron blog of the Fort Bend, Texas area.

It seems that the school district, Fort Bend ISD, has decided to change its mission statement and its “vision.” These are the things, they say, that define how the district sees itself and what it hopes to achieve. Why that is I cannot fathom. What has changed?

Nevertheless the district appointed a committee to refigure the mission statement and the “vision” and new versions of both were just revealed to the school board this week. For your edification I will place the old and new mission statements adjacent to each other.


“By teaching every child and learning every day, Fort Bend ISD will provide the best educational opportunities to ensure that all students are successful in a global tomorrow”

“We will prepare our students to succeed in a global tomorrow!”
Not much is new under the sun. The “global tomorrow” language is still there as it has been for decades as far as I know. But perhaps the first part of the old mission statement was too many words, or perhaps there was too much there in terms of how all of this was going to be accomplished.

Maybe it was too much information.

After all, why explain all of that? Just make it a positive affirmation.

Or could it be that the district is rethinking the notion of teaching every student every day?

Who knows?

The change in the district’s “vision” is even more mysterious, and to some school board members, “disturbing.” Again, arranging them adjacently:


“Fort Bend ISD students will acquire knowledge, develop skills and build character so that they will lead productive, fulfilling and moral lives.”

“Fort Bend ISD – the school system of choice!”
Common theme between the new vision and new mission statement? Fewer words and an exclamation point.

Common theme between the old vision and the new one? None.

The old vision simply rehashes the mission statement saying what it hopes to do and how it hopes to do it. The new vision either says that people choose to send their children to Fort Bend ISD over other districts, or that in Fort Bend ISD there is choice.

I think the vision committee meant the former, but I suspect the school board interprets the latter.

Choice, it seems is a loaded word these days. Republicans, which abound on the Fort Bend school board, don’t really like that word.

But it doesn’t bother me in the least.

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