Thanks Luke! Delaware’s Heralded CTE Director Joins Biden-Harris Administration

August 4th, 2022

Category: News

Luke Rhine speaking at a Pathways to Prosperity conference in 2017.

Luke Rhine, formerly the associate secretary for workforce solutions at Delaware’s Department of Education (DDOE), has been swooped up by the Biden administration to take what he’s learned in the Mid-Atlantic to benefit the nation as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.

On behalf of our team here at Rodel, and just about every business, school, and higher education partner that worked with him here in the First State, THANK YOU and best wishes in your new role!

I first met Luke in Switzerland in 2014. He had recently joined the DDOE after serving as a teacher and state-level administrator in Maryland’s Career and Technical Education system. We were there as part of a U.S. delegation looking to learn from Switzerland’s vocational education and training system.

Luke stood out from the outset. With his great smile, ponytail, beard, and easy style, he was engaging and approachable. A guy you wanted to have a beer with, which we did on more than one occasion. We talked about kids, fishing, and the little known fact that he had “ups”—as a standout high jumper who surprised folks with his ability to dunk a basketball—when he was in school.

Once I actually got a chance to talk with Luke, I realized he was not only exceptionally smart and visionary, but he could explain what he envisioned in a way that made sense. And he knew that to get anything done, that you really needed to listen and collaborate with others.

I’m not looking to canonize him, he still has a lot of work ahead of him, but I want to capture some of the things that he got done here during his eight years in Delaware.

  • Let’s start with the fact that he was the quarterback behind the first JPMorgan Chase grant that helped Delawareans across the spectrum of public and private sectors to work together on a common strategic plan.
  • He then effectively worked to blend upwards of $25 million in federal and state funds with another $10 million of private sector dollars to help build what national expert Bob Schwartz of Harvard University said was the “best career pathways system in the nation.”
  • This was a massive collective effort that involved just about every district in the state, our higher ed partners, particularly Delaware Tech, nonprofits like the United Way and Rodel, major state agencies, like Labor, Education, and Workforce Development. Rhine was a key leader in helping this effort grow from 27 students in one pathway in 2016 to over 23,000 students in 25 state-level pathways today.
  • Most recently, he helped guide the passage of a package of policy changes that made accessing scholarships for young people and adults easier and more coherent. House Bill 480, passed this summer, works to maximizes the use of scholarship funds in several ways: by focusing on high-demand occupations; supporting as many students as possible with the funds available; and by providing authority to DDOE’s Office of Higher Education to increase transparency.

 

Before leaving, he also built the capacity of the DDOE to continue the work. He’s built a strong, capable team  that will help continue to progress our efforts to improve opportunities for the 140,000 youths in Delaware. The state is engaging in a national search to fill his post.

We’re excited where we are as a state and can’t wait to see what Luke does next. It’s tough making changes in a bureaucracy. Luke, much like his track-and-field days, always seemed to rise above it all and get things done for Delaware’s students.




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Author:
Paul Herdman

pherdman@rodelde.org

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