There is talk from above of getting rid of school boards, and just having the Federal Department of Education reach down to the state Department of Education which reaches down into the each and ever school district.  The Superintendent becomes answerable to the Department of Education, and not the elected School Board of concerned citizens, who if kept on will only be so in an advisory capacity. .

Elizabeth Scheinberg has stepped down from the Christina School Board as of last week, and in her swan song, she unintentionally illustrates exactly why  having local control over how and what we teach our kids, is better in the long run than letting it be decided a distant elsewhere.

Only because the Christina School Board fought the Department of Education for these programs, or proceeded despite admonitions by the same, are these programs today in existence….

Because we had an elected School Board of citizens:

A) Delaware Autism Program residences were saved by keeping them open, functioning as training facilities, for students whose IEPS demanded the services.

B) Enacted the first transparency policy in the state that compels the audio recording and online posting of our public monthly meetings.

C)  Invested in Montessori education, piloting Delaware’s first and only public Montessori program,

D)  Grew SPA (Sarah Pyles Academy) – our nationally recognized credit-recovery last-chance academy for students who’ve checked out of education, but now have checked back in.

E) Re-homed Networks, bringing this best-practice-based, amazing vocational-skill-building program together – every division under one roof – for the first time – to the betterment of the way we deliver on the IEP goals of the students served therein.

F) Created the Christina Early Education Center – centralizing all of our preschool classrooms in Newark into one school ..

G)  Eliminated error-filled Zero Tolerance from the district — replaced by a jointly therapeutic and punitive code of conduct

H)   Implemented a pilot of “therapeutic classrooms” in our quest to create the appropriate environment for each child,

I)   Installed a locally grown and beloved educator as our superintendent rather than engage in an expensive search firm for someone to use this district as another stepping stone to higher office.

J)   Survive the RTTT assault on education. “Survive” as in present tense, not past, b/c it’s not over. RTTT will live on in some ways beyond the grant expiration..  Our schools will exit RTTT and some of its many cumbersome mandates one year earlier than our sister districts because we refused to buckle to being bullied by Markell.

Boom.  That’s a lot of work and a lot to be extremely proud of.  But what did the Department of Education do during this same process?

A)  Task force to provide cover so Charter Schools could get conduit funding.

B)  Bill that imposes arbitrary standards on Delawares teaching universities

C) Standardized tests, standardized tests, standardized tests…..

And that is it.  One would think that list is so small it can’t be the full extent of what our Delaware Department of Education did under Mark Murphy.  I hope someone helps me out, because I could find nothing…  Hopefully I skipped something.

But the juxtaposition of the two, makes this very clear:  that letting the state run educational things means we get one or two things both controversial, and not ten things that are very solid.

As the House and Senate bills cutting district power get worked up over break and come forth next session, it would be wise to remember this vignette posted by Elizabeth. These items should not be forgotten to history….

Sleep well Elizabeth…  you’ve earned it.. 🙂

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