Delaware Governor-Elect John Carney and State Senator Brian Pettyjohn held a question and answer session at J.D. Shuckers in Georgetown this morning. The packed restaurant submitted many questions. A few of them dealt with Delaware education. Carney’s answers provided some insight to one of his recent decisions.
Carney explained why he named Indian River Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting as his pick for Delaware Secretary of Education. He stated the district performs very well on test scores and Bunting led the district in improving student outcomes. He felt she can bring that mindset to all of Delaware’s charter schools and districts.
Carney said the most important thing to help Delaware is improving our economy and that starts with education. He wants as many students to go to college as possible but there are certain skills needed by Delaware employers that requires training for those particular trades, such as welding or diesel mechanics. Yesterday, Carney attended a press conference at Polytech where JP Morgan Chase announced an initiative which will pour $2 million into the Delaware Pathways to Prosperity program. Senator Pettyjohn wished for less focus on test scores as he felt even the brightest of students don’t always test well. He agreed with Carney about making Delaware a more robust economic force in the region but stated the outcome post graduation needs to be the driving force in education.
On the controversial question of school after Labor Day, Carney said those decisions should be determined at the local level and not by state mandate through legislation. He said what works for Cape Henlopen School District may not work for Red Clay. Pettyjohn said he is very curious to see how Maryland Governor Hogan’s Executive Order from last summer, which makes school after Labor Day mandatory for all schools, turns out.
Carney said he is in favor of after-school programs to focus on remediation issues and providing more education for Delaware students. He cited Booker T. Washington in the Capital School District when Principal Dale Brown made a decision to use extra funding to provide those services for all the students in the school.
In terms of the budget deficit, he revealed Governor Markell’s office will submit their proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget to the General Assembly. After his inauguration Carney’s team plans to present different options up and down the state. Those options will include a budget with greater revenue, greater revenue and less spending, and one with serious cuts.
On the question of public libraries, Carney is proud of libraries in our state and how they are evolving to technology in the 21st Century.
For the role of the Delaware Dept. of Education, Carney wants to turn them from an accountability machine to more of a resource for school districts so they can succeed.
A question was asked about education funding. Carney felt Delaware needs to look at every dollar being spent on education, specifically Title I funding from the federal government. He said he has never seen any school or district accurately explain where those federal dollars are spent.
Woodbridge Board of Education member Walter Gilefski was in the audience and Carney congratulated the district on their football team’s excellent year. When colleges were mentioned for Delaware students to attend, Carney threw out Dartmouth as an option as well.
In the meantime, the exiting Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, sent a letter to Delaware educators with the following:
From: Markell, Governor (Governor)
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2017 10:00:09 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
To: K12 Employees
Subject: Thank you
To Delaware educators:
As my term comes to a close, I want to thank you for all of the progress that you have made possible for the children of Delaware and the people of our state.
There has probably never been a better time to be somebody who has the right skills. And there’s probably never been a worse time to be without those skills. And that’s where you come in.
The last eight years have been productive and rewarding for our students. Educators have been tireless in your determination to support our students. You have risen to the challenge and delivered in our classrooms.
As we adopted the Common Core standards – to match what students need to know to be competitive in college and the workplace – teachers and leaders came together to create effective lesson plans and collaborate as effectively as anywhere in the country. Throughout it all, you supported each other through Professional Learning Communities, and came together to tailor learning for each of our children.
This process has not been easy, but the results show your hard work is paying off. We have achieved record-high graduation rates. Thousands of students are on track to be fluent in another language by fourth grade, including ten percent of all kindergartners, and thousands more are passing college-level dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses before they graduate compared to just a few years ago. You have made possible the incredible growth in our Pathways to Prosperity program, from just thirty students in one class two years ago to today when nearly 6,000 students are earning college credit, industry-recognized credentials and workplace experience in growing industries from IT to health care to culinary arts.
We all know that education is the great equalizer – it has the power to transform the lives of our young people, open doors and give them opportunities that their parents never had. It is more important than ever, and will only become more so.
You are the reason that our students are excelling, and that Delaware has emerged as one of the leading states in education over the past few years. I have been inspired every day by your creativity, perseverance, and commitment to the children of our state. While the state can set education policies, you are the ones who make learning happen – who spend time after school with kids who need additional help, work late on new lesson plans, and collaborate with your peers, always looking to improve the experience of our students. I look forward to watching you build on our progress for years to come. With you leading our schools and classrooms, I am confident that our brightest days are ahead of us.
Jack A. Markell