A Commitment to the Classroom
Real, positive change happens in the classroom at each individual desk. John believes we need to take a more personal, student-driven approach to education, and make decisions based on how they will impact student achievement at this most basic level.
Carney's "Commitment to the Classroom" includes five main focus areas: the restructuring the Department of Education, developing and supporting high quality teachers, helping principals become instructional leaders, focusing on improvement in middle and high school, assessing student achievement.
Restructuring the Department of Education
* Decentralize the Department of Education and create regional learning centers that provide professional development opportunities, a Principal Academy, and school improvement teams.
* Promote clear and consistent content standards that will be implemented in every school.
* Develop and expand partnerships with the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, our other institutes of higher education, and the business community.
* Raise expectations for our best and brightest
* Identify and help those students who have a learning disability or need extra help earlier in the process.
Developing and Supporting High Quality Teachers
* Provide appropriate, useful professional development opportunities targeted to the needs of teachers through the professional learning centers.
* Work with the Delaware State Education Association to develop a new career ladder for our teachers, one that will include advanced positions like master teacher.
* In collaboration with the DSEA, develop incentives to recruit and retain teachers where we need them most - in math and science and at high-need schools.
* Work with the DSEA and local districts to create the best working conditions possible for our teachers.
* Implement schedules that allow teachers to plan for their classes and collaborate with colleagues.
Helping Principals Become Instructional Leaders
* Use the Delaware Academy for School Leadership's program and Principal Academies in our regional learning centers to provide cutting-edge professional development programs for principals.
* Urge the districts to give principals more autonomy in making decisions about staff, budget and instruction for their building.
* Ensure that principals can easily access data on student performance, staffing and finances to allow them to make the best decisions they can.
Focusing on Improvement in Middle and High School
* Institutionalize, through regional learning centers, the Models of Excellence in Education program and support sharing partnerships statewide between schools that have raised student achievement and schools that are looking for new ideas.
* Direct the Department of Education to play a more active role in preparing children and families for changing expectations, especially in the transition from middle school to high school.
* Connect children and families to schools and teachers. This will build on successful models from around the state that allow teachers to become advisors and in-school mentors to their students.
* Build on the efforts of the P-20 Council to raise graduation rates, increase student success and make college more accessible to children beginning in middle school. This includes continued outreach to promote the SEED scholarship program.
* Coordinate with current efforts by the University of Delaware to educate and prepare Delaware students about what they need to do to continue on to higher education after high school.
* Work with schools and districts to identify the best ways to create extra time for those students who need to get back on track.
Assessing Student Achievement
* Implement a testing system of summative and formative assessments as a replacement for the DSTP, and allow our students and teachers access to the best diagnostic tools available.
A Better Learning Environment
One of the key ingredients to a strong education system is a more positive learning environment in our schools. One thing John has learned through his Models of Excellence in Education program is that it's teachers, principals, and school leaders who set the tone for a school. They create an atmosphere that promotes student growth and development.
Improving Schools' Abilities to Recruit High-Quality Teachers
* Eliminate the 90-day qualification period new teachers must complete in order to receive health benefits.
* Improve the state's use of technology in attracting new teachers, starting with integrating each school district's website into the state's recruitment system.
* Work with the Delaware State Education Association and school districts to revise the internal transfer process. Several districts allow teachers to transfer positions, both internally and externally, as late as July 30th. These late transfers can be disruptive to a school and often lead to less qualified teachers being brought in to fill an immediate need.
* Develop a new career ladder for our teachers, working with DSEA, that includes advanced positions, such as mentor and master teacher.
Advancement should be based on standards, best practices, and professional development, rather than years of service and degrees earned.
* Direct our best resources toward high-need areas, such as math and science and schools that have fallen behind, including loan repayments as recommended by Vision 2015, and a new system for recruiting highly-skilled professionals who have retired or are looking for a career change.
Promoting School Safety
* Make better use of technology to support school safety. If properly used, surveillance cameras and metal detectors are a great deterrent against the theft, property damage, and violence.
* Expand the Positive Behavioral Support Project statewide to give teachers strategies for teaching social skills and preventing problematic behavior on both an individual and school-wide level.
* Implement the Criminal Justice Council recommendation to create a School Based Teen Court that will help juvenile offenders get back on track.
* Address the causes of violence and other distractions that impede student progress by expanding access to counseling, anger management, and conflict resolution in our schools.
Increasing Parental Involvement in Our Schools
* Direct the Department of Education to work with local schools and districts to give parents more access and information about student assessment and school curricula.
* Create a common scorecard that teachers and parents can use to share information about student improvement, family-school interactions, and the overall satisfaction of educators, parents, and students.
* Improve the use of technology so that schools can communicate ideas and concerns quickly and more often with parents.
Expanding the Use of Community Resources to Extend the Learning Environment
* Build stronger partnerships with community organizations and businesses to provide more support for students. The active participation of the business community in after school activities helps the parents who are employees and better ensures a qualified and productive workforce in the future.
* Work with community centers, the Y, PALs and Boys and Girls Clubs to expand participation I after-school activities to more students.
* Form partnerships with community resources to have more after-school programs in the school facilities, eliminating transportation problems and other obstacles and allowing more students to participate.