Vision 2015 Chair Celebrates Delaware Public Schools
This guest blog post was written by Ernest “Ernie” Dianastasis, Chair of Vision 2015 and Managing Director of CAI.
Six years ago, hundreds of Delawareans across the state – individuals working in our schools and colleges, community organizations, and businesses – gathered together and created the Vision 2015 plan of recommendations to improve our public education system. Vision 2015 aims to transform the education system, bringing the state from the middle of the pack to a national leader. We set a goal—world-class schools for every Delaware student by 2015…no exceptions, no excuses, ensuring an excellent education system for future generations. As a business executive here in Delaware, I can tell you that excellent public education is a critical priority for all of us; we know that great schools nurture great citizens and helps prepare the future workforce.
As a representative of the business community and the current Chair of Vision 2015, I can tell you that this is a critical priority for all of us – we know that great schools nurture great citizens and train excellent future employees.
When the federal Race to the Top competition was announced, Delaware was well-positioned in part because of Vision 2015. The collaboration between key education stakeholders (to see who is on the Vision 2015 Implementation Team, click here) and the work already going on to make the Vision 2015 recommendations a reality, Vision 2015 helped set Delaware apart from the rest of the states. Delaware’s first-place win provided the state with an amazing opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of its public education for every child in the state to be a model for the nation and the world.
Today we are in the midst of implementing our Race to the Top plan, developing higher standards, implementing a more effective assessment system, and providing better, more relevant and attainable supports for educators and school leaders. Schools throughout Delaware are already making fundamental shifts to personalize instruction to meet each individual student’s needs, and even more teachers are placing increased emphasis on higher-level, critical thinking. Our Vision Network schools, for example, are using new ways to increase student achievement by including teachers in many of the decisions that normally are made by principals alone. At the same time, Network schools are supporting principals in their instructional leadership, so they aren’t bogged down by day-to-day building management decisions. Additionally, Governor Markell’s and the legislature’s $22 million investment in early learning in 2011 helped set the stage for the state’s federal Early Learning Challenge grant award of nearly $50 million. Today, the state is focused on helping early learning centers improve their quality, increasing access to centers for low-income and traditionally underserved children through the Delaware Stars program, and supporting early learning professionals more than ever before. Investing in early education is a key component of the Vision 2015 plan, and this investment has demonstrated to be one of the most effective ways to improve students’ success.
Our most recent state assessment (Delaware Comprehensive State Assessment System or DCAS) results show that all of these initiatives and programs in Delaware schools are making a positive impact. Delaware students even out-performed the state’s targets, and are on their way to achieving next year’s learning targets. Compared to the previous school year (2010-2011), more than 10,000 additional children are proficient in reading and more than 9,000 additional students reached proficiency in math, statewide.
Business leaders can attribute their success not just to hard work and diligence, but to an excellent education. The healthy future of our communities and our state depend on it. Companies are looking for better qualified students because jobs are more complicated and the global economy is more complex. And more importantly, every child in Delaware – no matter his or her zip code- deserves the same high quality education.
We’ve accomplished much in the last five years, and we now face a huge amount of work and huge opportunities to make even more progress. For decades, Delaware’s business community, through the Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, has been committed to supporting great schools for every child; we are seeing results through the hard work of educators, parents, and leaders in every community. On behalf of my colleagues, I pledge our continued commitment, and look forward to the work ahead.