Three Big PreK-12 Proposals

February 15th, 2013

Category: Early Childhood Education, News

On Tuesday night, President Obama’s State of the Union Address focused on growing America’s middle-class.  This growth, he argued, can only occur if citizens have access to education and training for today’s jobs.  In his speech, the President offered three sweeping proposals to improve PreK-12 education, even beyond the Race to the Top initiatives of his first term in office.  And, not surprisingly, Delaware is already making strides in the first two areas.

1.       Early Childhood

The President proposed working with states to make high quality preschool available to every child in America.  In a release from the White House which coincided with the State of the State, the President urges this proposal will:

  • Improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty
  • Support states as they ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs
  • Encourage states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten

Delaware is a champion for early learning.  Our state leaders have enabled additional state investments ($22M per year when most states were cutting services), which leveraged $50M federal resources for early learning when the state was awarded a Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grant.  Through our state’s quality rating improvement system, STARS, quality programming is not only being identified to the public; those programs are also being rewarded.  Should the President’s proposal pass, it not only would complement the great work in early learning that’s happening in Delaware, it could mean greater access to early learning for Delaware’s neediest families.

2.       Redesigned High Schools

President Obama also announced a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high tech-economy.  His proposal:

  • Rewards schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and creates classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)

Redesigned high schools are also not new to Delaware.  Both the New Tech School in Seaford and the Conrad Schools of Science in Red Clay were redesigned to address the needs of STEM and community partnerships.  At New Tech, a school within Seaford High School, students are exposed to project based learning in which they apply STEM to real-world problems in which they solve by working with community leaders.  Conrad was redesigned as a magnet school designed to meet the growing regional demand for biotech and allied health professionals, relying on major employers in the Wilmington healthcare industry for support in funding the program, acquiring needed technology, and building the necessary capacity for implementation.

Additional federal funding and competition high school redesign would be a boon for Delaware, a state that’s well positioned as a proven leader in school redesign.

3.       Improved School Buildings

Lastly, the President proposed “a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most…modern schools worthy of our children.”  The proposed “Fix-It-First” program focuses on needed government infrastructure repairs, including schools.

The details on this particular point have not yet been released by the White House.  However, as Delaware’s school infrastructure continues to age, the need for capital funds increases.

While it is not yet clear how the administration will fund these initiatives, should they come through fruition, Delaware will be postured to succeed.  As a state that has embraced reforms in both early childhood and high school redesign that embraces STEM, Delaware can build on its achievements in these areas and make them even stronger for its students.

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Matthew Korobkin



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