2014 State of the State: Markell focuses on student success beyond the classroom
At his sixth State of the State, Governor Markell continued his focus on education and investing in a variety of opportunities to help develop and support the potential of Delaware students. The Governor specifically outlined a number of initiatives designed to prepare students for life beyond the classroom.
Delaware schools are their students’ gateway to the world, and during his tenure, Governor Markell has focused on broadening opportunities for students. Last year, he focused on a robust World Language Immersion program, starting our youngest citizens on a path for a future in a global economy. This year, Governor Markell has focused his attention toward supporting students in developing their potential through a variety of initiatives such as college application assistance, encouraging dual enrollment, and training for students directly entering the workforce. These programs will help all students, encouraging their growth in the areas where they are most passionate.
Students have plenty of decisions to make in their final year of high school, as they decide which career or education path they would like to pursue. Unfortunately due to financial constraints, many are not considering college as a serious option. The path to college can be intimidating and the state has partnered with the College Board to alleviate some of the challenges. They’ve created college application supports through College Application Month, waiving application fees for participating schools, and helping to navigate the financial aid process. College Application Week was so successful in schools during the 2012-13 academic year that it has been extended to College Application Month for the 2013-14 academic year.
The college life can prove to be a difficult transition for students, laced with intimidation. Providing students the opportunity to experience college academics while still in high school can spark the desire to continue with a college education. To give students a taste of college life, Governor Markell announced that low income students will have the opportunity to apply for scholarship funds to take credit bearing courses during their senior year of high school. Students can get a realistic preview of college level work and take some of the anxiety and mystery out of higher education all while earning valuable credits toward a degree.
Some students want to enter the workforce directly from high school, and Governor Markell has proposed a plan to offer a training option for students. In the fall of 2014, a new program in manufacturing technologies will launch for high school juniors and seniors. Students will have the opportunity to start training in mechanical, computer, and electrical engineering, resulting in a nationally recognized manufacturing certificate, and interning with companies in Delaware. The component of real world experience in the field of the student’s choosing is invaluable toward planning for a future beyond the walls of the classroom. This innovative approach is a result of collaboration between the Red Clay Consolidated School District and Delaware Technical and Community College.
Exciting options for students beyond the classroom are being created throughout the state. Superintendents are using all of their skills to create robust learning experiences within the schools they know best. As a means for school leaders to serve their student needs directly, Governor Markell and Representative Debra Heffernan have been working on a pilot plan for flexible funding for school districts. Delaware’s current funding formula is unyielding, and providing flexibility on a trial basis would allow leaders to use their funding allocation to provide the services their specific student population needs. Reporting on their utilization of resources will help create a broader program for additional districts. With increased flexibility, districts may be able to support the efforts underway or create new ways to prime students for their future outside of the classroom.
The students currently enrolled in Delaware schools will be our state’s leaders in the not too distant future, and our investment in education will have an impact for decades to come. I continue to be impressed with the positive ways we are preparing students for a global economy. Governor Markell values education and continues to make students’ future beyond the classroom a priority.
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