November 08, 2006
Delaware's Rodel Foundation spearheaded the creation of Vision 2015, a coalition of business, education, and community leaders who aim to fundamentally redesign and dramatically improve the state's education system. With this detailed and comprehensive report, which incorporates extensive national and international research, as well as input from hundreds of educators and citizens in Delaware, they have produced a worthy blueprint for reform in the state. Ultimately, they hope Delaware's success will inspire other states to emulate their model. The report's recommendations--such as implementing strong academic standards, improving the assessment and accountability system, increasing principal autonomy, and fostering teacher professionalism--are generally spot on. It also addresses funding inequities ("Delaware's highest-funded district spends up to 45 percent more per pupil than its lowest-funded district.") in a logical and sound manner by proposing a system of weighted student funding. Other recommendations include adding 140 hours of instructional time per year, expanding online learning, and focusing more on early education. Unfortunately, charter schools are mostly absent from this reform list (although, implicit in the other recommendations is that all schools should function more like charters anyway). The authors acknowledge that while their plan is ambitious, political realities will temper it. Nonetheless, they hope that coalition-building will "mobilize broad public support" for their goals. Meanwhile, education reformers in other states should consider similar strategic planning processes. You won't want to miss this report if you're serious about education reform. Read it here.