We are excited and humbled that Delaware was selected in the first round of Race to the Top, but now the hard work begins.
Some national observers have been engaging in a debate about the tradeoff between buy-in and boldness. We understand the potential concern that broad buy-in will automatically translate into watered-down reforms. All of us need to be vigilant to prevent that scenario from playing out, yet we’d argue that the two are not only important but mutually reinforcing.
While we readily acknowledge that there have been a number of strong state applications, we believe Delaware did so well because we crafted a bold and coherent policy framework that cuts across all four Race to the Top “assurances,” and because we have strong leadership from the top — from public, private and civic leaders, particularly our Governor and Secretary of Education.
The universal buy-in from all our stakeholders would have been an empty gesture if it hadn’t been grounded in a strong policy framework and leadership from the top.
Further, our planning process didn’t start last summer. Delaware began thinking hard about rebuilding its education system — benchmarked against the world’s best — five years ago. Public and private sector leaders immersed themselves in data and crafted a plan, Vision 2015, which has served as the “on ramp” to Race to the Top. Vision 2015 leaders have been meeting about every six weeks for many years to address this work. So none of the potentially contentious “RTTT” topics were new to any of us.
Nationally, we are all on a huge learning curve. No states have implemented high stakes teacher evaluations (for all their teachers) based on performance. And none has yet implemented the Common Core standards or turnaround strategies at scale.
Collectively, it will be important to keep our feet to the fire, and we also need to be open to learning from one another every step of the way. The Rodel Foundation will continue to support this work and I’d welcome your ideas and input.