Back to School Briefings

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2009 Back to School Briefings result in education reform package passed in the legislature

A little over a month after taking the oath of office, in March 2009 , Governor Jack Markell asked Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery to launch a series of public meetings around education reform, called "Back to School Briefings" across the state to get citizen input, advice and recommendations to impact the reform plan. The “Back to School” briefings drew hundreds of participants in person and online (podcasts of the meetings are available here on specific topics .

The briefings started a statewide dialogue on education reform centered on four main topics:

  • Rewarding teachers who volunteer to serve in at-risk schools
  • Replacing the DSTP with a better system for measuring performance
  • Cutting cumbersome regulations and allowing more decision-making discretion
  • Giving schools more funding discretion, but also holding them accountable

From these briefings, Lt. Governor Denn and Secretary Lowery drafted three bills on education reform, and then further took these bills to parents, educators, students, and other stakeholders throughout the state going to PTA meetings and other groups. All three bills had no additional cost to the state.

Then as the legislative session drew to a close in the last few days of June 2009 the three bills passed. These bills will:

  • Senate Bill 68 (sponsored by Senator Sokola): replace the Delaware State Testing Program with a statewide test that will be more useful to teachers, less stressful for students, and more helpful in charting student progress.
  • Senate Bill 151 (sponsored by Senator Sokola), create a pilot Academic Achievement Awards program that gives large financial rewards (paid for by federal stimulus dollars) to the schools that make the most progress in educating at-risk kids. This will be Delaware's first state run program where schools receive substantial financial rewards for excellence in educating students.
  • House Substitute 1 for House Bill 119 (sponsored by Representative Schooley), put procedures in place to direct more public dollars into the classroom and less into administrative overhead, while simultaneously giving schools more financial flexibility.

But we’re not done!  Join the conversation on education reform!

How can Delaware’s education system continue to improve? Lt. Governor Matt Denn wants to hear from you - submit your suggestions and comments by using our Suggestion Form .