Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Part 2 Executive Summary

Now for Part 2 of the DSEA Executive Summary, Comments on Race To The Top (RTTT)

Performance Zones
DSEA believes that the Performance Zone concept for low-performing schools included in DOE’s strategic plan should be used only where other well implemented strategies have failed. DSEA favors the creation of a performance zone only under the following conditions:
• Schools within the zone will be part of a “reform network”, but the district retains oversight of the schools.
• DOE oversees the “reform network”, including technical assistance and resources.
• DOE will develop capacity within the districts to support their zone schools.
• School improvement plans will be developed within a collaborative, collective bargaining environment. Other stakeholders such as parents and community groups will be involved in the development of the plan.

DSEA believes that sustainable funding must be a part of any reform effort in order for Delaware to avoid the “funding cliff” when federal stimulus money is no longer available and improvement efforts are left without funding.

Standards and Assessments
While the Common Core Standards have the potential to provide educators with far more manageable curriculum goals to promote student success, the standards alone do not guarantee student achievement. Delaware must provide effective teachers and the necessary educational and community resources to ensure quality education.
DSEA also favors the state’s effort to develop a student assessment instrument that is both formative and summative in nature, commonly referred to as growth model testing. To ensure the success of the new instrument, the DOE should determine its validity and reliability and align it with the proposed “Diamond State Curriculum” before moving to statewide implementation.

Data Systems to Support Instruction
A data system needs to provide educators with timely and relevant information to impact instruction; provide parents with the information to be active in their children’s education; and provide colleges and universities with information to make teacher preparation programs relevant to today’s classrooms. DSEA does not support the use of data systems that link student tracking information to individual teachers for the purpose of performance evaluations.

Effective, Efficient Service Delivery

Regional Centers
DSEA supports the experimentation with regional centers for purchasing and providing various human resources tasks. A cost benefit analysis on those centers should be completed as soon as practical.

School District Consolidation
DSEA questions the educational value of district consolidation. Delaware decision makers must examine the state’s experience with consolidation, review previous studies, and commission new studies of consolidation to determine the educational merits of such as a proposal. Furthermore, DSEA is committed to the principle of “leveling up”. Leveling up is the practice of making the new salary schedule for a consolidated district match the salary schedule of the best paid district among those absorbed. A thoughtful discussion involving all stakeholders must occur before serious consideration is given to consolidation.

DSEA is proud of our advocacy role as a union which we view as complimentary to the reform process. The union gives voice and input to educators in substantial ways. Efforts to weaken unions or collective bargaining agreements diminish educator ownership of the reform process and create the potential for failure. Every reform ends with implementation by an educator in the classroom. This reality makes DSEA more than just another opinion in the room. DSEA takes the responsibility and the opportunity seriously.

Delaware State Education Association
November, 2009

Our Mission:
The Delaware State Education Association, a union of public school employees, advocates for the rights and interests of its members and outstanding public education for all students.

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