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Delaware Governor: Jack Markell

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  Archived Posts From: 2010


What Does “Race to the Top” Mean for Delaware?

Written on: September 29th, 2010 in Education

Coversations About Stronger Schools Town HallRecently, I had the opportunity to represent Delaware at NBC’s Education Nation, and I participated in the “Race to Deliver” policy conference at the University of Delaware, followed by the first of a series of Conversations About Stronger Schools. A good deal of the discussion centered around the national “Race to the Top” contest and its impact on education reform.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan launched Race to the Top in part because he recognized the connection between improving public education and improving our nation’s economic security. The competition gave states an opportunity to demonstrate how serious they were about making their schools stronger, how detailed their road maps were to get there and how broad state support could be for those efforts. Delaware came in first place, in part because we worked together.

People across the state — educators, employers, administrators, parents, even thousands of students — spent hundreds of hours contributing their thoughts to a compelling blueprint for improving our schools and have been working together to put those plans in place and demonstrate results.

Central to the plan is the belief that the quality of teaching is the single biggest determinant of a child’s success in the classroom. That remains our No. 1 priority. It’s why Delaware is improving the way we prepare, hire and support our teachers. We will be evaluating how the best teachers in our schools succeed, and applying those lessons to developing teachers of the future. We will teach our school leaders how to be better instructional leaders to their teachers. We will also better compensate teachers proved to be effective in the most challenging schools.

Our plan was not designed as an opportunity to win Race to the Top. It was designed as an effort to give our children and our teachers new means to succeed and new, more thorough measures to determine that success.

Winning Race to the Top brings some additional resources to help finance some of our planned improvements in public education.

It also brings a degree of national focus to our small state and thus gives us a chance to demonstrate to many potential employers that what works for us in Delaware — responsible plans, with broad support, that improve both educational opportunity and accountability — is a great reason for them to put Delawareans to work in the future.

This race is a marathon, not a sprint. It will be complex and challenging, requiring levels of collaboration rarely experienced in public education reform.  We need your support and involvement in this process.

Speaking out at Keene ElementaryWe hope you join the conversation.

The complete schedule for the Conversations About Stronger Schools – public town hall meetings up and down the state – can be found here.  Please help us spread the word!

You can also submit your suggestions and feedback through

This post was originally published in The News Journal.

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Stronger Schools Attract Jobs

Written on: September 28th, 2010 in EducationJob Creation

There is nothing more critical to our state than getting Delawareans back to work and expanding economic opportunity for people who are already working.

While our daily focus on bringing in new and better jobs to Delaware and helping Delaware companies grow must continue, it is also clear the most important thing we can do to ensure our state is an economic leader over the long term is to make sure we have some of the best schools in the country.

When talking with national and international business leaders responsible for creating jobs, they want their companies to be in places with great schools or schools that are on their way to being truly great. They want to be able to hire and provide careers to students who graduate prepared to succeed.

Our competition in this regard is no longer just our neighboring states; it includes countries around the world seeking to bring those jobs to their shores.

For those business leaders that have made the decision to build and grow their companies here in Delaware, one constant theme supporting their decision is that in Delaware, we are truly a state of neighbors and, when faced with a challenge, we come together, across counties, across political parties, across occupations and across individual interests, to move our state forward. It is my firm belief this approach, which serves us well when we compete for jobs day-to-day, will be the cornerstone of our long-term success in creating great schools.

To turn around our persistently low-performing schools, to overhaul our student testing and teacher appraisal systems so that they are more useful and fair, and to implement new academic standards that will enable our students to compete with the world’s best, will not be easy, so we need your support and involvement in the process.

We hope you join this conversation.

The complete schedule for the Conversations About Stronger Schools – public town hall meetings up and down the state – can be found here.  Please help us spread the word!

You can also submit your suggestions and feedback through

This post was originally published in The News Journal.

DSEA President Diane Donohue, Governor Markell, Secretary Lillian Lowery
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Behind the Scenes at DOL: Improving Service & Saving Money

Written on: September 24th, 2010 in Guest PostsRecognizing State Employees

I invited Secretary John McMahon to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how the Department of Labor (DOL) is working to become more efficient and effective.  The system he describes below is a great example of an effort that saves taxpayer money, reduces costs for employers, and improves services to individuals who need it.

Thanks for reading,

Jack Markell


Secretary John McMahon

The Workers’ Compensation Health Care Payment System (HCPS) went into effect as the result of a reform effort in 2008; however, the results of this new system have been clearly realized in the two years since.  The system was designed to provide quality care to injured workers while controlling costs.  HCPS contains five major provisions:  Fee Schedule, Practice Guidelines, Utilization Review, Medical Provider Certification and Employer/Provider Forms.

Since implementation began, the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) has been working hard to lower the overall costs of claims and improve the quality of care.  This translates into lower premiums for Delaware employers, making it a bit easier to keep Delawareans working and bring on new employees. The reduction of costs across the board has been realized by both the public and private sector, including the State.

The HCPS has been a veritable “one-two punch,” containing costs via the Fee Schedule while maintaining quality care via the Practice Guidelines.  The Fee Schedule establishes maximum reimbursement rates for all nationally recognized medical procedure codes.  The Practice Guidelines were developed by medical providers using the most current, well-documented scientific research and provide parameters for carpal tunnel, chronic pain, cumulative trauma, lower back, shoulder and cervical treatment.

The Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau, Inc. (DCRB) is the independent authority that collects and analyzes workers’ compensation insurance data and recommends rates to the Insurance Commissioner.   According to the DCRB, voluntary and residual market rates have been markedly reduced as a direct result of HCPS.  In fact, the DCRB has announced the 6th straight reduction in workers’ compensation premiums.

Through the success of the Health Care Payment System, the OWC expects to see further reductions in costs and premium rates.  Through collaboration with the DCRB, we will soon start to see results from a data collection effort that will result in even more accurate and fair pricing within our Fee Schedule.

We invite you to visit the Department of Labor website at  We have more information there about workers’ compensation, as well as job opportunities, labor law enforcement, training, and Delaware’s One Stop Business Registration and Licensing System.

If you have questions, please get in touch with the Department of Labor office nearest you.

We’re happy to help!

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Reflection on Labor Day

Written on: September 8th, 2010 in Helping Our Neighbors

I hope you had a great Labor Day and enjoyed time with your family and friends.

The long weekend, besides serving as the unofficial “last call” for summer, gave us pause to honor the men and women who helped build our nation through hard work. It gave us a moment to reflect on our country’s core values: responsibility, drive, resilience and faith that by working hard you can, and should, get ahead.

Thank you for the work you have done to keep Delaware moving forward.

Labor Day also reminded us that—while some of us face daily challenges and frustrations in our own jobs—there are Delawareans who face even greater challenges.  Many of our family members, friends and neighbors are still searching for work.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, we turned into law bipartisan efforts to put people back to work and keep others working.  Here are a few examples:

  • Our Clean Energy Jobs package, which was designed to put more people to work in expanding industries such as wind and solar power.
  • The innovative Business Finder’s Fee Tax Credit or “BFF,” which aims to turn employers into a sales force for the state by offering incentives for any new jobs they help bring here.
  • The Delaware Historic Preservation Tax Credits extension, which gives new life to a program that has supported around 2,400 jobs rehabilitating historic buildings since 2001.
  • Our bipartisan budget, which funds fewer state positions, while meeting increasing demands for education, health care and public safety and focusing resources on driving private-sector job creation.
  • As we look towards the fall, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Please know that we remain focused on how we can keep people employed, create new jobs and expand economic opportunity to move Delaware forward.

    Please join us: we need great ideas from every corner of the state! Share your suggestions about how we can work together to create jobs, improve education and make government more efficient and effective at

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    Happy birthday, Delaware National Guard!

    Written on: September 2nd, 2010 in Guest PostsRecognizing State Employees

    Guest post by Major General Frank Vavala, Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard:

    Three hundred fifty-five years ago, the first Swedish settlers living in the city of Wilmington, then called Fort Christina, banded together forming a militia to defend their homes against the invading Dutch. This was the birth of our Delaware National Guard.

    From those humble beginnings to today, the men and women of our Delaware National Guard have always answered the call to duty in support of our state and nation. The members of our Delaware National Guard have served in all major conflicts from our colonial origins through our present day overseas contingency operations.

    Today, in its fourth century of service, the Delaware National Guard continues to answer the call. The Delaware National Guard asks only for the opportunity to carry out its mission. In peacetime it is at the service of the Governor whenever emergency, natural disaster, civil unrest, or terrorism threaten the lives and property of our citizens. In times of war or national emergency, it is trained and ready to assume the honorable position in the nation’s first line of defense. As we celebrate, our colleagues are deployed throughout the world.

    So, happy 355th to the Delaware National Guard and its citizen soldiers and airmen around the world. Protecting the nation, serving the First State, we are your hometown force, the Delaware National Guard.

    Brig. Gen. Hugh Broomall, Cmd Sgt Maj Rosemarie Williams, Maj Gen Frank Vavala, and Command Chief Mast Sgt Holly Morris share the cake cutting duties
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