As Gov. John C. Carney delivered his (technically first-ever) State of the State address last week, the Rodel team listened intently for any mentions of public education.
Here’s what we heard:
- Not surprisingly, Gov. Carney led off with the economy. He mentioned some positive steps in tackling the state’s mountainous budgetary issues, including the newly formed Prosperity Partnership, and others.
Naturally his first mention of education arrived tethered to the economy. The governor touted workforce development—and particularly the work of Delaware Pathways—as a major key to improving outcomes on the business ledger and in citizens’ quality of life.
“Investing in the workforce will pay dividends for years to come,” he said, pointing to increased investments in institutes of high education like Delaware Technical Community College, and nonprofits like Zip Code Wilmington.
- He talked about the long-simmering efforts underway in Wilmington, and mentioned the state’s new Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Opportunity Grant program, and basic needs closets in schools as signs of encouragement.
And he spoke about the still-to-be-finalized plans surrounding the Christina School District—which the governor referred to as “the most difficult thing we will do during this administration, and the most important”—including capital upgrades, early learning centers and parent supports, raised teacher salaries, and smaller class sizes.
- Speaking of early learning, Carney spoke to the need for deeper investments there, including additional funding to continue to grow and expand the Delaware STARs system in the FY19 budget.
- The governor touted the success of math coaches in various schools across the state (especially since, as he pointed out, math skills are important for the future workforce), saying he’ll look to increase their numbers in the years to come.
- And he circled back to Opportunity Grants, which helped provide a range of services to schools statewide, saying he’ll propose to triple the number of schools receiving that financial boost.
- Carney seemed to emphasize social and emotional learning, saying, “We’ve put a greater emphasis on coordination among state agencies tasked with serving our most vulnerable citizens.” He specifically mentioned implementing a set of recommendations from a Centers for Disease Control report, which aims to reduce youth violence in Wilmington. A good first start for Delaware, he said, will be helping various agencies better share data, and target resources where they’re needed most.
- On teachers, Carney called them the most important job we have, and said he plans to hire 200 new teachers to match student enrollment growth (which is required by state code). He also mentioned working alongside Rep. David Bentz, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and the DSEA, to create a student loan forgiveness program for educators that will help the state retain educators in our highest need schools and in the highest demand subject areas.
- He thanked his wife Tracey for stewarding grant funding from the Casey Family Foundation, which, through local hospitals, Delaware Division of Family Services, the Division of Public Health, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the Office of Child Advocate, will launch Delaware Healthy Outcomes with Parent Engagement, or DE HOPE, designed to help substance exposed infants.
- The new statewide library card campaign, which aims to deliver social services to more communities, got a brief shout-out.
- As did the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board (GEAR), which is exploring cost-efficiency measures in education and beyond, like shared technology services for schools.
As we anticipate a first-draft budget next week, Gov. Carney’s punchiest line of the day—“the state of the state is strong, and getting stronger”—will be put to the test. Stay tuned.