36 Intriguing Delawareans • Susan Bunting
Secretary of Education
Photo by Carlos Alejandro
In best serving the diverse needs of Delaware’s 136,000 students, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, 69, faces state budget woes and a White House that wants to massively rethink federal mandates and funding. For now, she feels the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act provides stability and customization for every state and that her Washington experience “advocating for change” will help develop good ideas based on good data. “Testing has an important function in holding schools accountable,” she says. “Without the information from tests, I can’t know what’s working. But we have to know how to use the results and be more judicious” in what’s tested.
In her last job, as Indian River School District superintendent, she emphasized innovative thinking from the bottom up. “I believe in collaborating with and highly value the ideas of those who work directly with students. Brainstorming, problem-solving and ‘thinking out of the box’ with a mixed group of teachers, specialists, administrators and stakeholders are quite powerful. Teamwork proved successful in Indian River, which has one of the highest levels of poverty, English language learners and diversity in Delaware. Therefore such practices will also prove successful on a statewide scale.”
Bunting grew up in Selbyville, the daughter of a teacher and clothing store owner. She earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware and returned to Indian River after a few years in Washington. She began teaching in Selbyville in 1977.