Archive for the ‘Delaware Schools’ Category

Delaware: The Next Switzerland?

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Every state in the country—Delaware included—is hard at work trying to reinvent their economy. Automation and globalization have flipped the labor market upside down. The added challenge is that just about every living-wage job is going to need some training beyond high school.


For the last several years, the Rodel team and many, many partners have poured a lot of effort into Delaware Pathways. We’re beyond proud of the program’s growth and its yet-untapped potential: In just a few years, the number of high school kids receiving real-world career prep and training has grown from 27 to over 9,000.


Again, we’re proud of our progress. But a little outside validation is always nice. Last week, a national group called Jobs for the Future (JFF) released a case study at their national Pathways to Prosperity institute called “Propelling College and Career Success: The Role of Strategic Partnerships in Scaling Delaware Pathways.


The major takeaway? When it comes to career and technical education and preparing young people for life after high school, Delaware is emerging as a national leader. The report lauds Delaware for our cross-sector collaboration, including leaders from higher education, the private sector, the United Way, and the Departments of Labor and Education–all working together on a long-term strategy. Frankly, it’s this type of collaboration driving our work.


We have a chance to do something special.  Four years ago, Bob Schwartz, a co-founder of the Pathways Network and a Harvard professor, invited me and some colleagues from Delaware and around the U.S. to visit Switzerland to see their pathways. They have been at it for hundreds of years and are considered the best in the world. We were so impressed, Rodel added one of the architects of the Swiss model, Ursula Renold, to our international advisory board. As is laid out in the case, fast forward to Delaware’s Pathways Conference in the spring of 2017, and Dr. Schwartz said to Governor Carney and the rest of the crowd assembled, “if Delaware continues on its current trajectory, I may not need to ask my American colleagues to hop on a plane to see Switzerland; I might be able to just take them to Delaware.”


We’re excited that this work is gaining steam locally and nationally. Check out this column from EdWeek: In Delaware, Creating Career Pathways for Youths.


We have a long way to go, but the public and private leaders committed to this work should celebrate the foundation that has been laid and the lives that have been changed.

Digging Deeper: The Many Languages of Delaware English Learner Students

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Delaware’s English learner (EL) population is the fastest growing student demographic in the state—seeing some 400 to 600 percent increases in the last decade, depending on what county you are in. ELs are a diverse group of students representing a vast number of languages, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and social, economic, and educational backgrounds.


They are students with limited English (language) proficiency who, because of foreign birth or ancestry, speak a language other than English. They account for eight percent—approximately 10,000 individuals—of the student population and three out of four are American-born. They collectively speak nearly 100 unique, native languages. And though ELs comprehend, read, or write little or no English when they enroll in school, studies have shown that students that later identity as multilingual or have exposure to another language, show signs of higher cognitive ability, a greater likelihood of economic benefit, and foster greater empathy for their peers and community.

In an effort to promote awareness about this population of Delaware students, a new series of fact sheets launched by the Delaware Hispanic Commission, the Arsht-Cannon Fund, Delaware English Language Learners Teachers and Advocates, and the Rodel Foundation of Delaware will provide specific insight to the life of an EL, how the state is serving this community, and more.


Click here to learn more about Delaware’s EL students. And here are just some of the 90+ languages spoken by less than one percent of ELs:


Language: Afrikaans

Where? Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, and part of the Indo-European language family, and primarily spoken in South Africa, Namibia and to some extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

By the numbers: About 86 Delaware EL student speak Afrikaans. However, there are 7.1 million native speakers of the language, with some 10.3 million second-language speakers.

Common Phrase:Lekker eet!” … “Have a nice meal!”

Fun Fact: Afrikaans is the youngest official language in the world, only having replaced Dutch in 1983.


Language: Gujarati

Where? An Indo-Aryan language native to the India state of Gujarat.

By the numbers: Around 84 Delaware EL students speak Gujarati, but worldwide there are around 50 million speakers, making it the 26th-most-spoken native language in the world.

Common phrase: “નાણું મળશે પણ ટાણું નઈ મળે” … “Choose time over money.”

Fun Fact: Gujarati was the first language of Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.


Language: Tagalog

Where? An Austronesian language native to the Philippines.

By the numbers: About 42 Delaware EL students speak Taglog, with 28 million first-language speakers and some 45 million second-language speakers. It is both a national and minority-recognized language in the Philippines.

Common phrase:Mabuhay” … “long live,” “cheers,” or, “welcome.”

Fun Fact: The English word ‘boondocks’ is actually a Filipino loanword. The Tagalog word for ‘mountain’ is ‘bundok.’


Language: Marathi

Where? Marathi is an Indian language spoke predominantly by the Marathi people of Maharashtra. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

By the numbers: About 18 Delaware EL students speak Marathi, each of whom are a part of the 73 million people that speak it worldwide. With this figure, it ranks 19th in the list of most spoken languages in the world.

Common phrase: “सुप्रभात” … “Good morning.” “शुभ रात्री” … “Good night.”

Fun fact: The Marathi script consists of 16 vowels and 36 consonants—making a 52 character alphabet.


Language: Ga

Where? Ga is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana, in and around the capital city of Accra.

By the numbers: About three Delaware EL students speak Ga. There are less than one million—745,000—speakers worldwide.

Common phrase: “Eŋɔɔ minaa akɛ mile bo ekpe.” … “I am pleased to meet you.”

Fun fact: Ga is just one of the 16 languages published by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, despite the relatively low number of dialectal variation.


Language: Czech

Where? Czech, historically known as Bohemian, is a West Slavic language and official language of the Czech Republic.

By the numbers: Approximately three Delaware EL students speak Czech amongst the 10.7 million native speakers worldwide.

Common Phrase: “Smím prosit?” … “Would you like to dance?”

Fun fact: The U.S. Foreign Institute has ranked Czech the second most difficult language to learn—with a special note to the formal and informal iterations of the language.


Language: Navajo

Where? The language is a South Athabaskan language of the Na-Dene family, which is related to the languages spoken across the western states of North America. It is primarily spoke in the Southwestern United States.

By the numbers: Approximately one Delaware EL student speaks Navajo. There are about 170,000 native speakers. There has been a struggle to keep a healthy speaker base, but has somewhat been alleviated by the extent of education programming on the Navajo Nation.

Common phrase: “tʼáá hó ájítʼéego tʼéiyá” … “Just do it,” “it’s up to you,” or “that’s all it takes (take responsibility for yourself).”

Fun fact: Despite being among the best-documented native American languages, it was used as a code language during WWII due to no Navajo dictionaries being published.

Delaware’s Public High Schools Ranked Among Top Ten Nationally

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Over the weekend I read that U.S. News released its annual collection of high school rankings—and, lo and behold—Delaware’s public high schools landed as eighth-best in the country.


Before we pop the champagne, we should note that the website’s methodology examines the highest performing high schools in each state. We realize that some of Delaware’s highest performers select their students, at least in part, on some entrance criteria, and do not always reflect the full diversity of the state’s overall student body.


But this is still cause for celebration. Delaware ranked eighth because six of its schools (or roughly 17.6 percent) earned “gold or silver medals” from the publication.


  • Gold: Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Charter School of Wilmington
  • Silver: Middletown High School, Caesar Rodney High School, Mount Pleasant High School, Sussex Technical High School


The lofty ranking is one more positive sign of momentum for Delaware’s schools—and seemingly a shifting tide in the perception and reputation of our public school system. In the past few years we’ve seen:


  • Delaware high school graduations rates spike from 80 percent to 85 percent (see Rodel’s “At A Glance” page on graduation rate trends). Delaware was the No. 1 state in terms of increased high school graduation rate in 2014 as recognized by The U.S. Department of Education.
  • More students enrolling in AP and dual enrollment courses than ever before. In fact, the number of student taking dual enrollment college courses tripled from 800 in 2014 to 2,700 in 2015-16.


As encouraging as all this is, we can’t rest on our laurels. We have lots more work to do in preparing our high school grads for college and/or careers.


For example, we know that just 49 percent of Delaware’s young adult population (ages 18-24) has attained some postsecondary education and that by 2025, 65 percent of jobs in our economy will require some level of education beyond high school. Closing that gap will be tough, particularly for our highest need students.


But with the forward movement in our high schools, the growing partnerships with our higher ed partners to increase dual enrollment and college persistence, and our deepening commitments from business and education to build meaningful career pathways for students, I’m excited about where we are and where we’re going.

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