School Mission Statements

Most school mission statements are painfully vague to the point of being interchangeable. Others are too lengthy. The best are specific, distinctive, and succinct.

• The mission of the Buckley Community School, where kids come first, is to partner with families to develop enthusiastic learners. Positives, short, specific reference to partnering with families, “enthusiastic learners” is a challenging/admirable goal. Negatives, “kids come first” way too cliche. B-.

• The mission of Vancouver Public Schools is to assure that, within a nurturing and stimulating environment, each of our diverse students and graduates achieves literacy and appropriate core competencies, and becomes a responsible and compassionate citizen. This is the type of mission statement that gets worse the more times you read it because it’s filled with vague words and phrases. And once you get four or five students together, let alone thousands, isn’t it understood the students are diverse? What the heck are “appropriate core competencies”? And how will the VPS leadership know if graduates become responsible and compassionate? What does it look like? Awful. D-.

• At Woonsocket High School, our mission is to, “educate all students in a safe, supportive, challenging environment where they can learn to be citizens of a culturally diverse society.” “Safe, supportive, challenging environment, g-e-n-e-r-i-c. And what does citizenship in a culturally diverse society entail? That’s like saying “where children learn to be adults.” WHS can say, see we did it, all our students became citizens in a culturally diverse society. Say something about the TYPE of citizenship you envision. F.

• The mission of Lakeside School is to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion and leadership to a global society. We provide a rigorous, academic program through which effective educators lead students to take responsibility for learning. We are committed to sustaining a school in which individuals representing diverse cultures and experiences instruct one another in the meaning and value of community and in the joy and importance of lifelong learning. Nice. Finally some specifics, “creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits”. Granted some will understandably wonder what does an ethical spirit look like, let alone wisdom, and compassion, but we have to allow for some abstraction in mission statements. “Global society” strikes me as overreaching and a bit wordy. Last sentence could be tightened up too, especially, “individuals representing diverse cultures”. A-.

At Catherine Nichols Gunn Elementary School our mission is to challenge and support students to be the best they can be. Reads as if the authors were in a hurry. I’m partial to succinct statements, but “best they can be” leaves me scratching my head. Uninspiring. Original grade, D. Plagiarism adjusted grade, F.

Elk Grove Unified School District will provide a learning community that challenges ALL students to realize their greatest potential. I guess the difference between Catherine Nichols and Elk Grove Unified is Elk Grove doesn’t provide support? The very definition of interchangeable missions. Original grade, D. Plagiarism adjusted grade, F.

Stanford Business School—To create ideas that deepen and advance the understanding of management, and with these ideas develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world. Bravo. Well, “change the world” is cliche, but loved it up to that point. B+.

Charlotte Country Day School strives to be the benchmark of academic excellence in college preparatory education through superior teaching of a rigorous curriculum. Excellent. As a parent or student you know what you’re getting into. Don’t expect much attention to healthy bodies and ethical spirits. Specific, distinctive, succinct. A, the winner.

7 thoughts on “School Mission Statements

  1. What is PLU’s mission statement? How does this one rate by the professor?

    The International School strives to offer the best comprehensive secondary education in the United States. It provides a unique focus on the phenomenon of globalization and actively teaches the principles of global citizenship. The school takes a leadership role in education in developing the most integrated and effective curriculum in all academic areas. It also provides the most nurturing and supportive learning community involving students, parents, faculty and administration. The International School continually measures its practice against the best, in order to set the standard for all

    • PLU seeks to empower students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care – for other people, for their communities, and for the earth. I think it’s exemplary probably because it precedes my arrival. I find the IS mission problematic on two levels, the tone is arrogant and it’s unnecessarily wordy.

    • Good question. It’s all in the implementation otherwise it’s just marketing style over substance. In terms of the implementation, does it inform who is hired and are the claims evaluated in light of student work or graduates’ achievements?

  2. Why is it that we give no importance to our students’ own personal happiness and enrichment? Is education merely for the benefit of society? Doesn’t society benefit when its individuals are personally fulfilled? Most school mission statements leave me with an Orson Wells 1984 coldness…Are we merely preparing kids to contribute to the big machine? I acknowledge that public ed is generally financed by tax dollars, but it might be beneficial to have a society of well adjusted individuals who can think for themselves rather than a fleet of automatrons who “contribute” to society. Just what exactly is “contributing to society”?

    • Excellent questions. Sadly, when it comes to purposes of schooling, groupthink has taken over. As a result, personal fulfillment has totally fallen off the radar. And I agree, “contributing to society” is vague. It can mean lots of different things to different people.

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