A basic disclaimer: all opinions below are mine and in no way represent the opinions of the Christina School District Board of Education of which I am merely one member.
As 2010 comes to a tumultuous and furious close in the world of education in Delaware, I wanted to share some thoughts about 2010 and what I look forward to in 2011.
First, I am thankful for all of the hardworking, dedicated professionals in the Christina School District and all they do to help our students succeed. We truly have some of the best administrators and teachers in Delaware serving our kids. When it comes to support, the custodians, paraprofessionals, food service, librarians, facilities, bus drivers, and secretaries are the ones who make sure we run smoothly so we can keep our focus where it belongs. For all employees, I am sincerely grateful and wish each and every one a great holiday season!
Education in Delaware is a contact sport of late and I want to acknowledge a few things about where CSD is and may be going as we approach the New Year. As many who follow this space know, I am no fan of the Federal usurpation of local control vis-à-vis competitive grants that make for a tawdry landscape of winners and losers amongst our kids. That said, the DOE has somewhat masterfully, if not brutally, bent DE code to enforce that DE is going to make deep changes to how poor performing schools will be addressed. I remain less than enthusiastic about the prospects for success, but have made some decisions about how I intend to help Christina’s schools perform at the best in this new order.
I believe the Board of Education in Christina is ready to embrace a radical approach to fixing our schools that need help. For me, that means lending the most sincere and considered approach to having the DOE as friends in the process. Understand this: friends can only be true if they are willing to submit to blistering criticisms from time to time. If the DOE and Christina hope to make Glasgow and Stubbs two models of excellence, we must negotiate our differences and get to the work of helping our students succeed.
This means may things to many people. To me it means that equity is critical and different for every student. Excellence is not. Christina will need to DOE to help us travel down the new road laid out by DCAS and lend maximum support (read $$). In the absence appropriate resources, success will not stand a chance. In the presence of adequate resources, much else will still be needed to succeed. Examples of “much else” include but are not limited to: outstanding leadership, professional development, effective governance, and genuine collaboration of stakeholders. I am committing that I intend to help CSD hold up our end of the bargain on all of those fronts. The Board of Education has recently embarked on several transformative initiatives. I am hopeful that trend will continue in 2011 and am further hopeful that the current BOE, which has 3 seats up for election in May 2011 will remain on its current trajectory of liberating Christina from its unfortunate reputations in student achievement and other operational deficiencies. These have been in decline over a number of years for a variety of reasons in my opinion, but we have begun to apply the brakes. I hope to see Christina find a path to travel upon that has the DOE with us. During this journey, I intend to keep the DOE honest with sometimes brutal criticism and I hope keep the corporate interests as far away from CSD as possible.
I am most proud in 2010 of our complete, ideological repudiation of our previous code of conduct based on the flawed tenets of zero tolerance, the passing of a new board policy sanctioning the digital recording of board meetings, and the recent decisions to assert local control in personnel contract issues. I still believe the strategic plan needs considerable revisions going into 2011 to react to the new landscape of Delaware education and that the BOE has considerable work to continue in revising our own governance manual to allow the BOE to be as nimble and deft as is necessary in the future. Finally, we must find a way to have the DOE and CSD be better partners in 2011 and I intend to work very hard to make this the strongest district in the state with their help! It should be an exciting 2011 in CSD!
On a personal note, I have finished my classwork for my MBA at the University of Delaware and will walk on 1/9/11. I would like to thank my wife, son and parents for their support and my fellow board mates for understanding why I did not always have time for evening commitments on occasion. I will end by posting two videos that I find highly allegorical and related to my motivations….This will be my last blog post of 2010! I need my rest because 2011 will be off to the races when Dr. Lowery approves PZ plans for our two schools and we get down to business! See ya next year!
and this one….