All of us want Delaware's school system to be the best that it can be. Few issues are more important to me, to the people of our state and to all Americans than the quality of our schools and their ability to raise student achievement. Throughout my career, and particularly during my eight years as governor, I have worked to reform the education system in our state and across the country.
Now more than ever, we need to make sure that our schools prepare the next generation of Americans to compete and win in the global marketplace. By improving our schools through programs like Race to the Top, increasing access to higher education, fully funding education programs that are working and providing positive role models to our nation's youth through mentoring programs, we can kick-start our economy and increase the standard of living for all Americans.
Race to the Top
In 2009, President Obama announced a nationwide grant competition called Race to the Top to encourage states to pursue education reform. The program awarded $4 billion among states to make improvements in the following areas: creating rigorous standards and high-quality assessments, recruiting and retaining top-notch teachers, employing data-driven instruction, reforming low-performing schools and implementing sustainable, systemic education reform. I’m pleased that Delaware was one of the first winners in the Race to the Top competition, receiving $100 million over four years to implement education reforms. I will be following this effort closely and will continue to work with officials at Delaware’s Department of Education to ensure that they have the resources to make the progress Delaware students need and deserve.
Elementary and Secondary Education
At the federal level, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act, is currently scheduled for reauthorization. This presents Congress with an important opportunity to reform and strengthen this law and our education system. Nearly a decade ago, I worked with my colleagues to pass this legislation, which sought to hold our teachers, schools, principals and communities accountable for our children’s education so that every child in America receives an excellent education.
I have been meeting with educators, parents, business leaders and others throughout our state to hear their ideas and concerns about the law so I am well prepared to revise this landmark legislation to best meet Delaware's –and America’s – needs. I have heard a lot of good suggestions for ways to improve this law and better reform our education system including: improve professional development and training for school leaders, particularly principals; identify and retain excellent teachers and attract new talent to the profession; provide flexibility so schools and districts have both the funding and the freedom they need to get better results; develop strong math and science standards, paired with research-based curricula and meaningful assessments and implement data systems that track individual student performance across grades, schools, towns and teachers, so that we have the data we need to drive education reform. I will work with my colleagues, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to make sure that this law enhances parents’, teachers’, schools’ and communities' ability to raise student performance and repair failing schools.
In the last Congress, I continued to support education polices that will enhance educational excellence in Delaware. I cosponsored the Effective STEM Teaching and Learning Act, S.463, which authorizes a competitive grant program for states to develop and implement comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) strategies. I also cosponsored S.686, the Charter School Quality Act, a bill that improves the charter school sector by tightening requirements under the existing Public Charter Schools Program and establishing a competitive grant program to disseminate best practices across charter schools and traditional public schools.
I agree with President Obama’s goal that upon graduation from high school, every American student should enroll in at least one year of job training or higher education in preparation for a career in a 21st century economy. Ultimately, we need to ensure that every student is given the opportunity to pursue some type of higher education, and an important component of this goal is adequately supporting technical and career education programs. I will continue to support funding for career training programs that have proven to give students the tools they need to succeed in their profession.
Higher education is also critical in preparing our young people for careers in the 21st century. However, the average cost of college has tripled over the past twenty years, and financial aid has not kept pace. Throughout my career, I’ve worked to improve college access and affordability.
In March 2010, Congress passed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which, among other things, changed the way student financial assistance is provided to reduce the cost to taxpayers and increase the amount provided to student aid programs. The legislation increases the Pell grant award to low-income students to nearly $6,000 by 2017, invests $2 billion in community colleges over four years and makes the repayment of loans more affordable for students graduating from college.
I also supported the Post-9/11 GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, which pays for the tuition, housing, books and tutoring costs of active duty service members with four years of service who go back to school after they complete their military obligation.
As a longtime mentor, I believe there's no greater way to make a difference in the life of a child than to mentor. Mentoring programs not only benefit our students, but they are also deeply rewarding to the mentors themselves. Delaware has demonstrated the power of mentoring to communities across the country, and I have helped recruit thousands of mentors as part of a statewide effort to help at-risk children and foster academic achievement. Such programs are an integral part of our school system in Delaware and across the country. Visit the Delaware Mentoring Council's website to learn more.
For Young Immigrants: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process
In June 2012, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a directive to immediately halt the deportation of select young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who meet a series of criteria.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:
- Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- Are not above the age of thirty.
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date. Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now accepting applications for consideration of deferred action.
To learn more about the application process visit USCIS: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Additional application guidance and materials from USCIS:
“How do I” brochure with process guidelines and filing information
Form and Instructions: