Archive for the ‘ED25’ Category

Delaware Lost a Great Man

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John%20Taylor%20small%20picDelaware lost a great man on Saturday.

Many fond words and remembrances will accompany the next few days. A prolific writer like John Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way.

John was one of the first people I met when I moved back to Delaware 11 years ago to head up the Rodel Foundation. His bushy eyebrows and his raspy directness intimidated me at first, but before long, John was making me laugh.

He was a fierce proponent of improving education and fairness for children throughout Delaware, and became a founding member of the Vision Coalition—then called Vision 2015. He was with many other Delaware education leaders at the table in 2004 when the group first began putting thoughts and ideas toward Vision 2015, which would go on to become one of the most impactful and enduring public-private partnerships in the country.

Thanks to people like John, more Delaware children are getting strong early childhood educations, and more are getting into college than ever before. U.S. Senator Tom Carper on Sunday night pointed to Delaware having the third-fastest student achievement growth nationally based on NAEP scores over the last 20 years. Said Carper: “That achievement doesn’t belong to any one person or group of people, but John Taylor really helped us move the needle in Delaware, and for that this and future generations of parents and children should be grateful.”

John knew firsthand what it meant to live the unique life of an educator, and his gifted knack for sharing information and connections impacted our work tremendously. He began his career as a teacher, and also served as superintendent for Wilmington’s Board of Education.

Over the years, I grew to know John as not only a dear friend, but my go-to guy on all things Delaware. He knew everyone and everything. And he was trusted by everyone because he spoke the truth, even when the truth was painful to hear.

He was a lion of a man; he feared no one. At the same time, he was incredibly humble and funny.

The work to improve educational inequity has always been challenging, but John was always clear-headed, direct, and courageous. His moral compass on complex issues was unfailing, and his willingness to speak truth to power came naturally. I can’t count the number of times John raised his hand to have a hard conversation to a legislator, or even a governor. And whenever, in his gravelly voice, John said, “I’ll take care of it,” we all knew it would get done the right way.

Through his work at The News Journal and the Delaware Public Policy Institute, he pushed important issues to the forefront, everything from education and the environment, to nonprofit governance, to the arts.

Generations of readers recognized his editorials because he told it like it was. For those who grew up watching him in WHYY, he was Delaware’s Walter Cronkite.

To put it simply, John Taylor was a Delaware treasure. I don’t know a Delawarean who has given more back to this community.

Many hope to live a good life, others hope to live a meaningful one. John was one of the few who succeeded in both. He will be sorely missed and my love and prayers go out to his family and many, many, friends.

We love you John.

To honor of all of John’s work toward improving the quality of education for Delaware students, we hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible contribution to The Taylor Family Fund Builder (TA1419), an endowment fund that John and his wife Maria established at the Delaware Community Foundation to make Delaware a better place for all.

Checks should be written to The Delaware Community Foundation, noting Taylor Family Fund in the memo line, and sent to:

P.O. Box 1636
Wilmington, DE 19899

Students Needed! – Conversation this Saturday

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Our youngest learners are getting a stronger start through an expansion of higher-quality early learning programs. The drop-out rate is at a 30-year low. Every student who is ready for college, is applying to college, and 98% are enrolling. More high school students are taking–and passing–Advanced Placement courses than ever before.

Delaware has many reasons to be proud of recent education achievements in the state. These efforts have resulted in real, dramatic life trajectory changes for many Delaware students (to learn about one of these stories, read this The New York Times article). However, we know that this is not a reality for too many students in our state. Achievement gaps have been persistent. Too many students don’t have the educational opportunities that they deserve.

The Vision Coalition* recognizes these accomplishments and challenges, and is developing A Vision for Education in Delaware in 2025 (ED25 for short), a plan to better prepare Delaware students for a lifetime of success.

This Saturday, the Coalition is hosting a conversation specifically for current 7th through 12th grade students and recent high school graduates to share their educational experiences and aspirations for themselves and their communities to the Coalition leadership. The conversation will be at the Wilmington Public Library from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, and lunch will be provided. The feedback shared at this conversation will be used to develop the final plan, which will be released in early 2015.

The conversation will be facilitated by:

  • Chandlee Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court of Delaware, and Vision Coalition Steering Committee member
  • Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center, and Vision Coalition Leadership Team member
  • Melissa Tracy, social studies educator, Conrad Schools of Science

We all agree how important students’ perspectives, ideas, and opinions are to the development of this plan. Please take 5 minutes and help spread word about this event to students, parents, and teachers who can encourage students to attend. RSVPs are requested to

*Paul Herdman, Rodel Foundation’s President and CEO, serves on the Vision Coalition’s Leadership Team. Due to his role, I provide staff support to the Vision Coalition, coordinating and promoting these types of meetings.

Join Us in Developing a Plan for Delaware Public Schools

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Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of Delawareans — led by the Vision Coalition of Delaware — have worked to create a draft plan, A Vision for Education in Delaware in 2025 (ED25). This summer, the Coalition has been sharing its vision and seeking Delawareans’ input through six community conversations across the state, targeted meetings, and online engagement.

The Vision Coalition (our President and CEO, Paul Herdman, serves on the Coalition’s the Leadership Team) is inviting Delawareans to visit, a comprehensive community engagement website, developed by MindMixer, where Delawareans can engage, communicate, and collaborate with leaders, decision makers, and other residents on the future of public education in our state.

We know that time is valuable, and in order to hear from as many people as possible on the development of the ED25 plan, is an easy-to-use online tool to generate new ideas and feedback from Delawareans, which will be used by the Vision Coalition in crafting the final ED25 plan. gives contributors a chance to share their opinions, expand upon existing ideas, and give feedback on initiatives, working with community leaders on a variety of topics online anytime, anywhere.
For those who participate on the site, there are “rewards” that have been donated from Delaware organizations and individuals including the Delaware Children’s Museum and U.S. Senator Tom Carper.
We hope you will take a few minutes to offer your thoughts as we prepare our students for a lifetime of success.

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