Congratulations, Delaware, for the Newman Award
Last week I was an attendee at the Education Commission of the States (ECS) annual National Forum on Education. This year’s conference, held in St. Louis, MO, was particularly special because the State of Delaware was a recipient of the prestigious Frank Newman Award for State Innovation. Our state won this award because of “the state’s bold approach to comprehensive education reform and its successful model of collaboration among a broad range of stakeholders.”
There to accept the award was State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson. Other Delaware attendees included Kelly Sherretz, Associate Policy Scientist at the University of Delaware; Christopher Ruszkowski, Chief Officer of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education; Donna Mitchell, Executive Director of the Professional Standards Board; Harriet Dichter, Director of the Office of Early Learning; Pamela Herrera, Director of Elementary Instruction at the Capital School District; and Heather McKenzie, Delaware Data Coach with Amplify Insight. Christopher Ruzkowski, Pamela Herrera and Heather McKenzie were presenters and their topic of discussion was Professional Learning Communities and Data Coaches; Harriet Dichter was also a presenter, and she discussed the progress of early learning in Delaware. Both of their presentations made the state proud.
This year’s conference included national luminaries such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan; U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; and Rick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies of the American Enterprise Institute. Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius discussed the President’s proposed Preschool for All Initiative. Rick Hess gave a compelling speech, challenging educational leaders to take on the laws, rules, and regulations that prevent them from implementing true transformational changes to our educational systems—the thesis of his latest book titled Cage Busting Leadership.
I was honored to represent the state at this national conference. Never have so many folks from other states asked me: “What’s going on in Delaware?” There’s no doubt we still have a long way to go. However, hearing about the partisan gridlock that’s occurring in other states, and how it’s stunting (and in some cases, reversing) the growth of public education, Delaware stands out. We’re a state that’s getting things done because we’re doing it together—schools, local and state government, business, and non-profits. Congratulations, Delaware!