Vision 2015 Conference: Respondents’ Panel- Race to the Top and Where We’re Going
The Vision 2015 Annual Leadership Forum “Race to Deliver” kicked off with a panel to discuss Delaware’s winning Race to the Top application and its influence on education reform moving forward. Panelists included Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery, Vision 2015 Chair Marvin “Skip” Schoenhals, Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Mervin B. Daugherty, and Delaware State Education Association Executive Director Howard Weinberg.
The panel began by reflecting on lessons learned through Race to the Top and its ability to catalyze systemic reform throughout the state and country. Various panelists highlighted the collaborative nature in writing the application and its impact on Delaware winning the grant. However, Skip Schoenhals made a critical point that, although everyone on stage received numerous congratulatory calls, “the hard work begins now.”
Next, panelists highlighted the various components of the Race to the Top grant and where difficult compromises must be made. Howard Weinberg highlighted that the grant will help all schools throughout state, but the grant will have a disproportionate impact on “children in low-performing, under resourced schools, and in impoverished and socially difficult situations.” Skip discussed how turning around these schools would prove difficult since there is sometimes an unwillingness to admit current shortcomings around our failings. However, through honest reflection and analysis, we could make the drastic changes required to help these students.
Near the end, panelists were anxious to note that Vision 2015 has already laid the groundwork for many of the reform initiatives pursued under Race to the Top. Various components of Vision 2015 that were highlighted include:
• Professional Development: Skip stated that utilizing student data to inform instructional practice is critical to ensuring students are provided instruction at the appropriate level to help them move along academically.
• Teacher Quality: Howard highlighted that we need to alter how we train our educators to more adequately prepare them for realities the they will face within the classroom and arrive ready to implement effective instructional practices.
• Campus Leadership: Mervin stated that Race to the Top will help prepare campus leaders to become more than operations managers on their campus. Rather, as highlighted in Vision 2015, Race to the Top will provide necessary resources to prepare and place campus leaders to become instructional leaders within their buildings.
The panel ended with a challenge from all panelists to come together and move past collaboration, but, as Howard Weinberg stated, “partnership and equity” among all stakeholders to begin the hard work of implementing these reforms.
These live updates are being shared throughout the day at the Vision 2015 Annual Leadership Forum, “Delaware’s Race to Deliver” on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. You can also follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about Vision 2015, and check back on our blog for post-conference coverage.