Joining Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Jack Markell and Congressman John Carney at Howard High School in Wilmington Monday, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) talked about the growing importance of science, technology and math education to making the United States more competitive over the long-term.
"Our nation needs more high schools that emphasize STEM education like Howard does," Senator Coons said. "The 21st century economy is taking root in science and technology, and by equipping our young people with the skills to succeed in those areas before they get to college, we'll make our economy stronger and our nation more competitive."
Monday's event celebrated the one-year anniversary of the first awards under the successful Race to the Top program, which resulted in Delaware schools winning $100 million to improve student performance throughout the state.
Earlier this month Senator Coons cosponsored a bill that would establish an Early Learning Challenge Fund to improve access to high-quality learning and development opportunities for children younger than five years old. Modeled after Race to the Top, the program would make funds available on a competitive basis to states that have demonstrated the greatest progress in establishing systems of high-quality early learning.
Senator Coons is also teaming up with other moderate Democratic Senators on a set of education reform principles designed to improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and better educate the next generation of American innovators. Those principles include:
* Accountability Structure: Reward growth and progress. The No Child Left Behind Act treated all schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress the same and did not tailor interventions to meet the specific needs of schools. The old accountability system fails to recognize growth and constantly labels failure. A new accountability structure needs to provide more flexibility for schools to determine the best way to meet the needs of their students, instead of a one-size-fits all approach from Washington.
* School Turnaround: Support bold, aggressive action to improve the prospects for graduation for students in schools that persistently fail to provide a quality education. Under current law, states and districts frequently choose the least intensive option for reform.
* Teachers and Leaders: Dramatically improve our system for recruiting, training, supporting, retaining and paying teachers and leaders. Competitive funds to create and replicate effective teacher and leader preparation programs are an essential element. Require better teacher and leader evaluation systems that include examination of student learning gains and provide extra compensation for those who take on additional responsibilities.
* Foster Innovation: Create opportunities for states, districts and schools that want to push beyond the status quo through innovative and promising new approaches.
* Equity in Resources (Close the Title I Comparability Loophole): Closing the loophole to require school districts to report actual expenditures at the school-level, including those devoted to salaries for teachers, when applying for Title I funding. Title I, the largest program in ESEA, provides grants to districts with children living in concentrated poverty. Closing this loophole will result in more equitable funding between schools.