Planning for a stronger workforce
In a recent interview, Gov. Jack Markell listed issues his administration thinks about each day: a transportation infrastructure needing attention, rivers and streams so polluted they aren’t fit for swimming, and one of the highest per capita prison populations in a nation with one of the highest prison populations in the world. (“And we’re still not any safer, he said.”)
He listed more, but he said his highest priority at this point in his second term is workforce development. In other words, he’s far from satisfied with our public education system. There are too many good jobs going unfilled by Delawareans because our young people are leaving school without the knowledge or skills they need.
He wants all of our students who are prepared to go to college to actually go, and graduate, not just the 80-some percent of prepared students who now go. He wants Delaware to be the most bilingual state in the nation.
To that end, his administration is supporting programs to teach second languages so students now starting first grade will be able to take their scholastic aptitude tests (SATs) in two languages when they are in high school. And he wants our vocational schools to prepare those students not going to college to enter the workforce with the skills necessary to immediately begin trade and other jobs.
The Labor Day holiday celebrates the workforce so critical to the functioning of our country. Those who use their educations to enter the ranks of the employed - and that is most of us - have the opportunity to feel the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. That’s a good feeling and worthy of celebration.
For students in Sussex County, Labor Day also signals the beginning of a new school year. Twelve years from now, most of those starting first grade this year will be graduating. Those years will pass quickly.
Will the seeds of the governor’s highest priority have borne fruit?
Time will tell, but in the true spirit of Labor Day, the degree of effort applied will be the biggest factor in determining whether Markell’s highest priority results in the education our children deserve.