Governor Markell Gives “College Ready” Speech At New America, Gets Bonus Points For Not Using The Word “Rigor”

Delaware Governor Jack Markell gave the keynote address at a forum called “Making ‘College Ready’ Matter: College and Career Ready Policies in the States” this morning in an event sponsored by the corporate education reform non-profit called New America Foundation.

Markell looked visibly weary and tired.  The speech began at 9:15am.  He used the same line I’ve heard from him a few times this year: “There has never been a better time for someone with the right skills, but there has never been a worse time for someone with the worst skills.”  Markell explained that states that have fully adapted the state standards have done better.  He cited Massachusetts as the first state to adapt to new standards and how it has paid off for them.

He said Delaware is one of the only states still calling them the “Common Core State Standards”, but even if other states are no longer calling them that they are still the same.  In talking about pushback to the standards, he blamed the original intent of supporters thinking it would keep federal intrusion at bay.  He said the opponents have gained a lot of traction around the country.  “Implementation hasn’t been very good in some places.  We worked hard with the Delaware Department of Education to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Markell said it was “exciting to see educators so empowered with sharing information” across districts and “we have a responsibility to fix the implementation.”  He believes the standards are “elevating the teacher profession.”

The Governor addressed the issue of opt-out and firmly stated he is opposed to opt-out.  He “understands the concerns about parents and teachers about too much testing”.  He dovetailed into the assessment inventory as if this is the answer to the Smarter Balanced problem.  “Good assessments are critical, they add value to educators.”  In talking about the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Markell said “It’s the best test we’ve ever made in Delaware”, it was “the right way for us to go”, “it’s more difficult than our predecessors”, and it is a “fair measure for parents and educators.”  “In Delaware, our colleges and universities have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores for college coursework.”

This brought up the subject of remedial classes.  As Markell was citing figures, the camera panned to what looked like a classroom and several teenagers present.  When Markell asked the crowd if they were still with him, the camera caught a teenage girl yawning.  Markell bragged about getting 100% of college-ready seniors to apply to college which included sending volunteers to schools to help applicants out with college essays and financial aid.  “We had 250 students who wouldn’t have bothered to apply.”

He stated college is not for everyone, and it is our (America) responsibility to make sure these students have a place and they get the necessary training to enter the workforce.

My biggest question concerning this speech was if the Governor receives revenue for these types of events as well as the travel costs associated with them.  So I emailed the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara with some questions just now:

  • Today at 12:11 PM
To
  • O’Mara Lindsay (Governor)

Good afternoon Lindsay,

I happened to listen to Governor Markell’s speech on college readiness today at New America in Washington D.C., and I had some questions concerning these speeches.

Does he get paid for these speeches?  Does the non-profit or company pay the travel costs associated with them (such as fuel, food, lodging, the Governor’s protection, etc.)?  If not, what part of the state budget is that allocated in?

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

We shall see if I get a response.  I’m sure I will see her tomorrow at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  I have to give Governor Markell props for not using the word “rigor” but he more than made up for it with the term “college and career ready”.

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