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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

We the People: A Customized Constitution for Leadership

A school district creates a leadership program for its students.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team

Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) in California's Central Valley has its own official constitution. It begins: "We the people of the Clovis Unified School District, in order to prepare students to be productive citizens ... do ordain and establish GoalSHARING, an interactive leadership system."

CUSD has found new ways for parents to support students and learning, and to participate in school governance through the annual Family GoalSHARING Conference and the Educational Congress.

The Family GoalSHARING conferences, aimed at expanding parent involvement, were first held in 1994. At these conferences, students and parents work with teachers to establish an educational plan. As Virginia Boris, associate superintendent, reports, "The parents in the Clovis district have a role and responsibility that they share with the district, the school, and the teachers." Held during the fourth, sixth, seventh, and ninth grades, in addition to regularly scheduled parent/teacher conferences, the GoalSHARING conferences allow students, parents, and teachers to collaboratively set goals for the year.

Several hundred parents, district employees, students, and community members also attend the annual Educational Congress. Participants discuss the district's educational mission, ratify goals, and address new initiatives and topics as they affect CUSD. For example, last year's topics included class-size reduction, early literacy, school-to-work, and technology integration. Additionally, both the superintendent and school board members held individual sessions in which they addressed questions from the audience.

According to Associate Superintendent Dan Kaiser, after three years there is strong, continuous involvement of parents, businesses, and community members. "With GoalSHARING and the Educational Congress," says Kaiser, "we are taking the school into the community and bringing the community into the school for decision making, goal setting, and monitoring."

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