United States Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle spoke Thursday night at The College of New Rochelle. She addressed an audience of teachers, administrators, college professors, and education specialists regarding the state of K-12 education across the country.
In light of our coming (April) piece on Common Core standards, in which we decode the often confusing and complex—not to mention controversial—policy, we were eager to hear what the Delisle had to say about the nation-wide reform efforts underway in schools. But noticeably absent from her speech was any mention whatsoever of Common Core. Rather, the Assistant Secretary referred broadly to “career and college ready standards” and spoke in general terms about “the significant amount of reform taking place in public schools … some of which is positive and some of which is having some unintended consequences,” downplaying the frustration Common Core has inspired in communities across the County.
Delisle’s speech focused on the Obama Administration’s second-term priorities, which she boiled down to five pillars: (1) universal pre school; (2) k-12 reform (Common Core); (3) college affordability and quality; (4) school climate and safety; (5) and closing the ‘opportunity gap’—a focus on education equity. Delisle said the administration has encountered resistance from congress on its universal pre-K agenda, but she lauded “the work going on for students of poverty, with disabilities, EL’s, and students of color.”
Other priorities of hers include broadband access for schools, recalibrating high school education to teach real-world skills that businesses demand, and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which aims to empower young men of color.
A former educator, Delisle stressed the importance of upholding respect for the teaching profession. “We’re finding too often throughout the country that teachers are met with disdain,” she remarked. “There are countries that respect teachers as much as they do physicians.”
Delisle is also a former school administrator, and prior to joining the Department of Education she was the Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2008 to 2011. Delisle secured $400M for Ohio in the Race to the Top during the Administration’s first term, a program awarded Federal education dollars to states that proposed innovative, promising plans to boost student achievement.