Assistant Education Secretary Talks Reform In Westchester Visit

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle addressed the federal government’s educational reform efforts at an appearance at the College of New Rochelle Thursday night.

The talk was hosted by the College of New Rochelle, the Lower Hudson Council of Administrative Women in Education and the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. Delisle talked about recent initiatives under the Obama administration such as flexibility with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and No Child Left Behind. She said that the reforms have produced positive results in schools, particularly with regard to college and career readiness, though it has not been easy.

“This is really complex work, it’s not easy. So there are starts and stops, there have been states that have had to step back and think a little differently,” she said. “But what I’m really pleased to hear, particularly because I’ve spent so much time in urban settings, is that we’re really lifting up the work going on for our students in poverty, students with disabilities, EL’s and also students of color.”

She talked about equitable distribution of financial resources such as Race to the Top money and competitive grants. She said that there will be new Race to the Top funding in the 2015 federal budget that will be based on equity.

“One of the things that has been really difficult is, obviously there’s never going to be enough money to go around,” she said. She said that districts and states have to be creative with their funds and find ways to make sure they are funding things that are important to them.
While she did not address Common Core in her speech, one audience member asked about it, and suggested that some Common Core standards may be developmentally inappropriate.

“I think the developmental inappropriateness of it is questionable. I think there are people who actually believe that kids can rise to these standards and we’ve got to support them in doing that,” she said.

“One of the troubling aspects of the education system has been that we have so many kids going through the K-12 system and ending up at the university level needing remedial coursework,” Delsle said. “And the definition that we’ve adhered to on college and career-ready standards, whether that’s Common Core or not, is that students proceeding through those set of standards would not need remediation at the college level.”

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