During a roundtable discussion with school administrators, union leaders and legislators Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said officials are taking the right steps to improve public schools in the First State.
The meeting, which took place in a packed conference room in the Carvel State Building in Wilmington, came just two years after Delaware was awarded $119 million in federal funding as part of the national Race to the Top competition. Delaware was one of two states selected for funding in the first round of the competition, which was a large piece of President Barack Obama’s plan to reform the public school system.
Duncan told education officials Friday that more needs to be done to improve graduation rates in Delaware and to get students college- and career-ready.
“You lose about 3,500 young people each year,” he said. “What jobs are out there for a high school dropout? There’s nothing out there. We all have to work together to bring dropout rates down.”
Gov. Jack Markell, who was seated on the panel next to Duncan and Delaware’s Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery, said the state is committed to graduating more students. The state’s reform plan is centered on four key initiatives: developing rigorous standards and assessments, coming up with a sophisticated data system, hiring and training effective teachers and supporting Delaware’s lowest-performing schools.