Friday, June 4th, 2010 - 5:36
Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 18:32
A report from the front. Delaware has won the big bucks. Now what happens?
Almost three dozen states are eager to chase after Round 2 Race to the Top grants. So, what’s happening with the two winners from the first round? We checked in with Delaware to find out.
No surprise that “winning” $100 million from the federal government did not turn out to be a no-strings-attached proposition. In fact, Delaware has yet to receive any money. Explains Dan Cruce (pictured), the Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff for the state’s Department of Education, the state is now racing to complete final scope of work documents from each of the state’s districts and charter schools, which are due to the U.S. Department of Education by the end of June.
Though Delaware won based in part on its preliminary scope of work, molding the 38 individual final scopes of work--one for each district or charter--has hardly been a victory lap. “If we had every district functioning at the highest level we wouldn't be a state in need," Cruce says. Over the course of the month leading up to federal review, Delaware has been pushing the districts through three iterations of their draft scopes of work.
Cruce and state Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery have been reviewing the drafts themselves, but Cruce believes that the most fruitful changes are taking place in the conversations between districts. “They are learning from each other, with a lot of collaboration at the local level particularly around planning,” he explains. Between the formal reviews and the positive peer pressure, the districts are grinding out some good advances.
For example, with respect to parent involvement and skill-building activities, the districts are moving away from informal gatherings like “pizza nights” that merely get parents into the school. Better, they now believe, are more ambitious events that thoroughly involve parents – showing them what AP classes really require of their child, for example. “If we are really trying to raise student achievement,” says Cruce, “[parents] seeing what we are going to spend money on will help us. If you are driving to be more successful in AP, don't leave the parent piece out."
If any states had at first envied Delaware (or Tennessee, the other Round 1 winner), they might now feel something more like gratitude. Those states’ work is extra hard as it sets the stage for future winners of Race to the Top. As Cruce puts it, “We see our role is not only to drive change in Delaware but to set an example for other states to more easily take their plan to implementation."