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“I am often asked what I would like to see happen above all else in our country and in our world.

So many things to pray for, so many things to work for,

But certainly my answer would be a world, where all children are loved and cared for–

first by the families into which they were born, then by all of us who are linked to them and to one another.

When we are reminded of the bounty and protection we enjoy, most of us are … grateful.

Our gratitude has its roots in a view of government that dates back to the days of the Pilgrims, and the successive waves of immigrants who came to this country, seeking religious and political freedom, and better economic opportunity.

In this view, government is an instrument, both to promote the common good and to protect individuals rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There is nothing more important to our future than the well being of our children, for children are at our core==

Not only as vulnerable beings in need of love and care, but as a moral touchstone amidst the complexity and contentiousness of modern life…

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes children to raise up a village.– to become all it should be.

The village we build with them in mind, will be a better place for us all…..

Hillary Clinton — “It Takes A Village”

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Delaware's Heroes For What

We hail our fallen heroes.  Hopefully many of you stirred some dull roots with spring rain today:…  memories, both a blessing and a curse.

But for whom did they die?

Did they die for….

Top 5 Contributors, 2009 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC      Contributor      Total Indivs PACs
AstraZeneca PLC                                                                     $71,550                                               $36,550               $35,000
JPMorgan Chase & Co                                                          $58,200                                              $33,200               $25,000
Ashland Inc                                                                                $55,420                                              $25,700               $29,720
Blue Cross/Blue Shield                                                      $46,000                                                  $6,000               $40,000
Bank of America                                                                     $40,440                                                 $3,940               $36,500

Those were Tom Carper’s top 5 contibutors……

Or did they die for….

Top 5 Contributors, 2009 – 2014,        Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC     Contributor           Total Indivs PACs
Young, Conaway et al                                                        $121,300                                            $121,300                     $0
Skadden, Arps et al                                                              $92,600                                             $87,600                       $5,000
Grant & Eisenhofer                                                              $70,049                                              $70,049                       $0
Comcast Corp                                                                         $69,200                                            $44,200                       $25,000
Morris, Nichols et al                                                            $57,550                                              $57,550                        $0

Those were Chris Coons’ top 5 contributors……

Or did they die for…....

Top 5 Contributors, 2013 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC     Contributor           Total Indivs PACs
Investment Co Institute                                                $12,500                                                 $8,140                            $2,500
Skadden, Arps et al                                                            $10,640                                                 $8,140                            $2,500
National Multi Housing Council                                $10,500                                                 $0                                     $10,500
Bank of America                                                                  $10,250                                                 $750                                 $9,500
AstraZeneca PLC                                                                 $10,198                                                 $250                                 $9,948

 

These are John Carney’s top contributors……

Our state relative to nationally, is actually on the good end of campaign contribution spectrum.  Nothing here, is really out of line. You should see some in other states…

But let us isolate by industry…..

For John Carney…. 

Top 5 Industries, 2013 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC       Industry Total           Indivs PACs
Insurance                                                       $96,520                                                                   $2,820                     $93,700
Securities & Investment                          $93,000                                                                  $1,500                     $91,500
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $59,110                                                                   $45,610                     $13,500
Commercial Banks                                    $49,000                                                                  $1,250                       $47,750
Finance/Credit Companies                    $43,250                                                                  $5,250                      $38,000

For Chris Coons…….

Top 5 Industries, 2009 – 2014,      Campaign Cmt                                                Industry Total             Indivs PACs
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $1,495,387                                                    $1,341,519                    $153,868
Leadership PACs                                        $512,900                                                           $0                              $512,900
Lobbyists                                                       $345,302                                                       $325,472                        $19,830
Securities & Investment                        $296,800                                                       $235,300                      $61,500
TV/Movies/Music                                     $228,157                                                          $163,800                       $64,357

For Tom Carper……..

Top 5 Industries, 2009 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte                                            Industry Total               Indivs PACs
Insurance                                                     $371,710                                                          $94,470                         $277,240
Securities & Investment                        $320,340                                                      $125,840                       $194,500
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $294,382                                                       $170,761                        $123,621
Lobbyists                                                        $214,262                                                     $207,042                            $7,220
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products      $207,710                                                      $50,300                         $157,410

And now, in what I believe is the first time ever…. here is the combination giving you an idea of who influences our 3 man delegation…  Compiled by adding together all three’s industry totals listed above and then ranking them top down…..

 

Lawyers/Law Firms   ……………..    $1,848,879

Securities & Investment …………….   $710,140

Insurance…..,,,,,,,,,……………. , ……   $668,257

Leadership PACs ………………………. $675,400

Lobbyists  ………………………………,…$568,779

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $486,108

Commercial Banks  …………………….$435,240

TV/Movies/Music……………………….$292,067

Finance/Credit Companies………….$208,865

========

And that is who owns our delegation….  Just seeing the visual makes it clear why some of the anti-people votes cast by this delegation, … are ever cast at all….   No, contrary to how we exclaim… They are not insane.  They are practical….

It will get worse with McCutcheon passed…

Already the amount of dark money as shown by tallies done by the Center for Responsive Politics show that nondisclosing groups have already reported spending more than three times as much as they had at this point in the 2012 elections — a presidential cycle when higher spending would be expected.”

Did you get that?  The unprecedented spending done in 2012, a contested presidential year, as of now been tripled over the same point of time back in 2012…….. . And it is both sides. In the past dark money was 80% Conservative, 20% Liberal.  Today (2014), it is 60% Conservative; 40% Liberal…   Spending by liberal nondisclosing groups is more than four times higher than it was at this point in 2012, while their conservative counterparts have tripled their previous spending level……

Which means, no tv watching this summer… and social media will become a real turn-off….  Both mean that most of America will tune out this election…  Thank you, Supreme Court…..   What were you smoking?

And if most of America tunes out this election,   it again begs the moral and serious question…. for whom did they die?  Certainly not us.

Delaware's Heroes

 

 

 

 

Charter schools moved into Philadelphia and siphoned money from public schools.  The public schools now suffer a $218 million dollar deficit, because the idiots up there allowed charter schools to move in and take funding away from public schools.  In both schools where children died from asthma attacks, there was no nurse on duty.  Had a nurse be on duty, because the school did indeed have funds, that were there only because charters had been outlawed as illegal…….

Those children would be alive today…..

If we are to have charter schools continue in Delaware, they need to be funded as are vocational schools; with a line item in the state budget.  Not by taking money away from public schools….

It is foolish to raise public school’s budgets, and allow charter schools to take whatever excess is granted….. If we need nurses, raise the budgeted amounts…. Just keep those dollars in public schools and don’t let charter schools steal it to pay their exorbitant rents to their landlords…..

Remember…. Charter Schools killed two students in Philadelphia……

 

Because son, in this world, if you don’t make your own decisions,… someone else will make them for you…..

 

The following candidates support We, The People, and not Corporate America, being the ones to make our own decisions for our own kids…..

 

John Young —  Christina School District

Michael J. Piccio —  Red Clay School District

Melodie Spotts —  Colonial School District

 

Hmmm…  There is no clearer way to have put that…..

 

Charter Schools want to come into Wilmington…  Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett explains it this way:   “When you have an open field, you build a road into it, that is just what you do; when you have a shore line, you haul dump trucks of sand to the ocean’s edge and dump sand it it…Therefore even though we don’t really need one more Charter School, we desperately need 5, simply “… because it makes me look good if I can get them to all go in…. “”

State legislators disagree…  In a letter to Mark Murphy, 20 state legislators (one third) expressed their concerns… Their main concern was that new Charters would deplete financial resources from public schools, particularly Red Clay, costing it $2.6 million…

Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett responded: “2.6 million?  That’s nothing.  That’s only half the number of bacteria living on on human hand …  Spectators noted that Mark Murphy, Delaware’s Superintendent of Education, recently promoted as a Chief of Pocket Change,  nodded approvingly.

However to the north of Delaware, in the district of Philadelphia, Charters have become a nuisance like banana boat roaches. Their infestation has grown faster than the training of exterminators.  In a 2007 analysis of Philadelphia’s persistent deficits, Pennsylvania State Budget Director Michael Masch indicated that reimbursement to charter schools account for the largest growth in Philadelphia school district expenditures over the last five years 

According to state records, Philadelphia’s School District paid $240 million to charter schools per year…..  These costs had to be met in other ways.

Kendall Massett says parents should have the right to choose a school for their child…. She brought up the beach sand analogy to prove its point… “Every year we truck sand in from the Pacific ocean across the nation at very great expense, to give beach goers an option to stand on either Atlantic or Pacific sand if they choose.  Without the great cost and expense, they would only have the sand of one geographical location, and their lives would be severely limited.”  The legislators pulled out a microscope and then challenged Kendall Massett to prove which grains were from the Pacific and which were locally beached.  Kendall Massett was unable to distinguish any difference between the two.

In Philadelphia, they discovered that overall, the results suggests that charter school performance is statistically
indistinguishable from the public school system’s students as neither the math nor the reading coefficient estimates for charter schools were statistically significant. This result is largely consistent with the existing literature that has generally found small negative, small positive, or no effects for charter schools across various locations (Solmon, Paark, and Garcia, 2001; Gronberg and Jansen, 2001; Hanushek, Kain, and Rivikin, 2002; Zimmer et al., 2003; Bifulco and Ladd, 2006; Sass, 2006; Zimmer and Buddin, 2006; Betts et al, 2006; Witte, et al., 2007; Hoxby and Murarka, 2007; Booker, et al, forthcoming)…..

So despite great expense in carting the sand from one side of the country to the other, and despite great expense in getting charters off the ground, as well as in running a public school system on $240 million less,  Kendall Massett insists we continue forward with Charters for the most serious of reasons:  “… because it makes me look good if I can get them to all go in…. ”

The analysis quoted above, further suggests that for students attending a charter school in its first year, charter schools have a negative and statistically significant effect in math….

To this Kendall Massett replied that unless you go forward and put Pacific sand on the beach, many beach goers will never get the opportunity again, to stand on Pacific grains of sand…  ” “We believe these schools will add unique value to Delaware because of their innovative methodology”..

When questioned by legislators what unique methodology Charter Schools could provide… Kendall Massett responded:  “Duh, I said they’re from a different place… So, that means they are different…In the case of two of them, a strong track record of success for kids.” meaning of course that three of the five have no record of success at all. but she insists, we should approve them all, because?

“… because it makes me look good if I can get them to all go in…. ”

Recently, when it was announced that Freire Charter’s application was in jeopardy, 41 parents of students in Freire in Philly, all wrote letters extolling the virtues of Freire, once  it was clearly told them that their child would fail the entire year, if glowing letters of recommendation were not forthcoming immediately…

Waxing eloquently, Massett wrote a letter in large hand printed script to her gym teaching mentor stating, that “It is perplexing that, in a city plagued by violence, charter opponents have criticized Freire’s nonviolence policy, which creates a safe haven in which students can learn and thrive.”

The legislators responded that Massett must have been smoking crack while they were talking.  No one said anything like that at all, they insisted.  If anything their opposition was not against Freire per se, but was instead directed against the loss of money that it would steal from the good existing schools already in place in the four districts surrounding Wilmington….

After the meeting, many legislators expressed amazement at Kendall Massett’s assertions…. Rep, Kim Williams, “the way she was acting, I almost pulled a chunk of green kryptonite I carry in my purse, just to see if she’d wither and collapse in a corner somewhere” she seriously pondered….

Said Charles Potter:  If Kendall Massett wanted to fill her pickup with sand and haul it across country at her own expense, we’d have no problem with that. But to make everyone pay an extraordinary price for sand that is identical to what we already have, is not the best use of taxpayers money at this time….

After all, the only reason Kendall Massett is so rabidly insistent is because?

“… because it makes me look good if I can get them to all go in…. ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Kilroy.

a letter to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, signed by the superintendents of Delaware’s 19 school districts, requests that the state Department of Education postpone utilizing the Academic Framework as a measure of progress in the ESEA amendment and instead continue with the current AYP measures for one more year…..

Again, as is happening across the nation, every single human being who has experienced Common Core, is either calling for its removal or postponement.

A very terrible system has been thrust on our educational system by those who stand to make billions off of the deal.  The product being given is harmful to children, and will cause society great trouble when these children mature and move into the adult world.

All legislators who have been sleeping with their heads under their blankets, need to wake up and take this letter seriously.

It was signed … not by just one,  or two.  or three.  or four… or five…. or six…. or seven… or eight…. or nine…. or ten…. or eleven…. or twelve…. or thirteen…. or fourteen….. or fifteen…. or sixteen…. or seventeen…. or eighteen…. superintendents…

It was signed by all 19 superintendents.  How many school districts are there in Delaware?  19.  Every single school district is demanding a year’s delay….

Common Core is dying, and we need distance before the balooning bloated body explodes and covers us all with its e. coli bacteria.

The oracles of the future are now saying I told you so… With the announcement today that one of the prime educational companies is now taken over by a private equity firm similar to Bain Capital, the writing is now on the wall as to what the whole push of Common Core was all about…

Renaissance Learning Inc, an educational company which Delaware handed over just shy of $555,555 dollars (just $2004 short) last fiscal year was just picked up for $1.1 Billion…. It last traded hands 2.5 years ago for $455 million.  More than doubling its value with the push for Common Core…  Companies in charge of our children’s learning, have been reduced to the value of a poker chip…. a piece of blue plastic.

The market has been moving fairly strongly…

Other Market Moves (courtesy of Education Week)

  • 2012: McGraw-Hill Cos. sold its education division to Apollo Global Management LLC for $2.5 billion.
  • 2011: Providence Equity Partners LLC purchased Blackboard Inc. for $1.64 billion.
  • Pearson paid $230 million for ed-tech company Schoolnet.
  • 2010: News Corp. spent $360 million to buy 90 percent of education software company Wireless Generation.

Counting this transaction, that totals $5.5 billion dollars….

With this much money being poured into those private suppliers to our educational system, the question emerges:  what happens when those investments sour?  Usually what happens in business is that the quality of the product the bought-business puts out, decreases exponentially as the business is squeezed to cover the cost of the initial investment..

In case you still don’t get it, Wall Street bought educational companies 3-4 years ago.  They got Common Core to then challenge and change standards, so their companies could then supply schools with materials invoking those standards . They have now doubled in value. They are now selling to get out of the market….

Common Core was never anything else but a false crises to drive up the value of their stock….

 

The bill entering law this session is very different from that of last session.

Here is the original bill:

This Act would increase the minimum wage to not less than $8.00 per hour effective July 1, 2013, and not less than $8.75 per hour effective July 1, 2014. If the federal minimum wage becomes higher than the Delaware minimum wage, the Delaware minimum wage would increase by $1.00 above the federal minimum wage….

Here is the amended version that passed the Senate last year…… which dropped the rates by a half a dollar, and excluded the possibility that Delaware could be over the Federal Minimum Wage…

“(a) Except as may otherwise be provided under this chapter, every employer shall pay to every employee in any occupation wages of a rate i) not less than $7.75 per hour effective January 1, 2014 and ii) not less than $8.25 per hour effective January 1, 2015. Upon the establishment of a federal minimum wage in excess of the State minimum wage, the minimum wage in this State shall be equal in amount to the federal minimum wage, except as may otherwise be provided under this chapter.

The House Amended it this year, primarily to update the dates by 6 months.

AMEND Senate Bill No. 6, as amended by Senate Amendment No. 2, by deleting on line 3 of Senate Amendment No. 2 the text “January 1, 2014” and substituting in lieu thereof the text “June 1, 2014”. FURTHER AMEND Senate Bill No. 6, as amended by Senate Amendment No. 2, by deleting on line 4 of Senate Amendment No. 2 the text “January 1, 2015” and substituting in lieu thereof the text “June 1, 2015”.

Then came the first Republican torpedo, later stricken…. to poke multiple holes in the minimum wage, thereby making it a minimum seive. Allowing for the payment of $5.81 per hour to the following….

(e) A wage no less than 75-percent of the minimum hourly wage required under § 902(a) of this Title shall be paid to the following:

(1) employees under the age of 18; and

(2) employees during their first 180 consecutive calendar days of employment with the employer; and

(2) employees employed in a seasonal capacity.”

Here is the real Republican torpedo. (Defeated naturally like everything Republican in this wonderful state) to extend implementation by half a year.

“(a) Except as may otherwise be provided under this chapter, every employer shall pay to every employee in any occupation wages of a rate (i) not less than $7.75 per hour effective January 1, 2015; and (ii) not less than $8.25 per hour effective January 1, 2016. Upon the establishment of a federal minimum wage in excess of the State minimum wage, the minimum wage in this State shall be equal in amount to the federal minimum wage, except as may otherwise be provided under this chapter.”

Then the third Republican attempt at poking holes in the minimum wage to allow businesses to exploit child and migrant labor by paying them $5.81 an hour….

e) A wage no less than 75-percent of the minimum hourly wage required under § 902(a) of this Title shall be paid to an employee satisfying any of the following:

(1) is under the age of 18; or

(2) is within the employee’s first 180 consecutive calendar days of employment with the employer; or

(2) is employed in a seasonal capacity.”

As it stands now, the minimum wage will rise to $7.75 per hour on June 1, 2014, and then again one year later.  On June 1, 2015, the minimum wage will be $8.25.. unless the Federal wage is passed at a higher amount:  $10.10….

But the real question is this:  how is it remotely possible that we still have 16 people in the civilized world, much less in our Delaware legislature, who still think it is ok to pay $5.81 for minimum wages therby putting Delaware in a slot between Slovenia and Greece on a chart of international minimum wages….

How is it possible that Blakely, Briggs-King, Dukes, Gray, Deborah Hudson AGAIN!!!!, Q. Johnson, Kenton, MIRO, Outten, Peterman, Ramone, D. Short, Smyk,  Spiegelman, Walker, Wilson, are still living in the 1990’s back when $5.81 was considered the barest acceptable minimum wage?  Roll back time 20 years… Sure, no problem say these 16.

Greece.  These people want us to be Greece…. GET RID OF THEM!  GET RID OF THEM ALL….. 🙂   (it is an election year, you know?)

In New York they are debating the cost of Pre K.  Everyone thinks it is a good deal, but to pay for it by raising taxes on only the rich?  The tax which is in discussion will cost roughly $1000 on incomes over $500,000.  New York has a lot of those.

The anti-taxers are beginning their push-back. …. A little history might be right for the rebuttal….

Taxes are too low and that is the reason for most of our economic slump.  Today’s low rates make it too profitable to skim money’s off the top… and nothing is getting reinvested back into the economy….  Taxes, we discovered across the expanse of the 20th Century,  are a tool of public policy and today, they are not being effectively used…

Higher taxes and a stronger government presence in the economy, is essential to economic stability.  The evidence to that is unquestionable.  Deregulated markets do some good, but are not the  complete answer to running a great society….  When one runs a business, one is always under constant pressure to reinvest some of ones profits back into ones business, or…  choose to  take the other option and keep the extra as profit.  We all hate those who chose the latter.

If something is broken, one should fix it, right?  That means spending money now.

Children of low income and minority households enter our school system with half of the vocabulary-words needed.  There is no way that can be fixed at home.  If one’s household does not use a wide vocabulary, one cannot get a wide vocabulary at home.  Having Pre-K and exposing all children to 10000+ words upon entering school, would almost close the achievement gap at it’s beginning.

We know what has to be done.  10,000+ words per child.  Just reading story-books with children would be enough to develop that… And the  benefit would dwarf the tiny cost….  It is that simple; reading children’s stories to them… something affluent parents do daily.

On to taxes.  From the 1940’s to the 1960’s the top tax rate gradually lowered from 100% to 72%… The JFK dropped it down to 60% to where it stayed until the great tax cutter, Ronald Reagan, dropped it to 50%…  Obviously every Republican who loves Ronald Reagan should have no qualms with accepting a 50% top marginal rate… They should be volunteering to pay that high, don’t you think?

Rates were cut again to 28% and when the cut  hit, the huge recession of ’91 began.  Upon entering office, Clinton raised them to 39% and the economy took off.   Took off until Bush cut taxes down to 35%…. They stayed at that level until last year, when the top half of one percent, got hit with a top rate or 39.5%….

This was the 1% most prosperous year ever….  needless to say, higher taxes improves one’s fortunes, not diminish them….

How much is $1000?  To the super rich?   If your average rate of return on $500,000 is 7%, over the year you should gain $35,000…. Divided by 365 days of the year, that would amount to  96 dollars a day…  So $1000 would be 11 days of interest off your $500,000.  That means you could keep the other 355 days worth…

Plus, at bringing all children in at 10,000 words, think of all the future costs that can be saved by then doing away with Pearson, MacLatchey, AIR and all the other consultants…. Pay a little now; save a lot later.

Any argument over being taxed more for kindergarten, or for any other viable reason, needs to be taken worth a grain of salt.    of course people are going to yell.  Even babies yell and they don’t even know why.  But we don’t let babies rule every aspect of our lives now, do we?

Or, do we?

 

(Below is the prepared text of the Governor’s State of the State for 2014. See if you can find the part which caused the Dow Jones to tumble.)

RED –Education

GREEN==Environment

ORANGE== Jobs

BLUE== Justice

VIOLET== Infrastructure

Lt. Gov. Denn, President Pro Tem Blevins, Speaker Schwartzkopf, members of the 147th General Assembly, other elected officials, members of the cabinet, members of the judiciary, Carla, the people of Delaware. Thank you for inviting me to address you today.

I know it wasn’t necessary but I just want to assure the members of the General Assembly that Secretary Bhatt was ready to personally plow each of your driveways to facilitate your travel here.

In all seriousness, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge our terrific state employees who day in and day out provide critical services to the citizens of our state. We all experienced the benefit of their work and commitment during the recent snow storms.

Our public safety, transportation, health care, facilities and other staff truly answered the call. We owe a continual debt of gratitude to our state employees for being there when their neighbors and fellow Delawareans need them.

Let me also thank the members of our military – our friends from the Dover Air Force Base, all Delawareans in the armed forces, and members of the Delaware National Guard. We had more members of the Guard deployed last year than ever.

Two of our Afghanistan veterans are with us today. I ask you to join me in thanking Capt. Brian Malloy and Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Gordon. Captain, Chief, please accept our appreciation for all that you and your colleagues have done for us.

This past year, one of Delaware’s own made the ultimate sacrifice. Warrant Officer Sean Mullen gave his life serving in Afghanistan. I ask that we all pause for a moment of silence to honor his memory.

Veterans like Capt. Malloy, Chief Gordon and Warrant Officer Mullen protect what makes America great. Our freedoms. Our liberty. And the promise that any child in America can grow up to be whatever they want to be.

That, of course, is the essence of the American dream. Everybody in this state wants a piece of it. That longing defines who we are as a people.

And while it isn’t our job to guarantee success for every Delawarean, it is our job to empower them to make their dreams real. Through several difficult years and this country’s worst recession in generations, we have made progress on securing that promise. The state of our state is stronger today than when I addressed you a year ago. Our job growth has outpaced the nation’s, highlighted by a thriving financial sector and technological innovation from companies large and small, whether it’s the parts manufactured at Miller Metal, the new pharmaceuticals developed at Incyte, the software made at SevOne, or the cutting-edge fuel cells made by Bloom Energy.

Our schools are implementing higher standards while, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly, we are better preparing our teachers. And the companies that will hire our students are dealing with fewer and clearer government regulations.

So, we’ve made progress, but to paraphrase Will Rogers, even if we’re on the right track, we’ll get run over if we just sit here. We have so much more to do.

If you have the right skills and live in the right communities, good-paying jobs are available. But for too many people, that’s not reality. Every Delawarean has something to contribute if given the chance. We need to make sure they have that chance.

As governor, I’ve made repeated visits to the Ferris School. The young men at Ferris often require intense rehabilitation. Four years ago, during a visit to a Ferris art class, a young man, whom I’ll call Brian, gave me a drawing he made. About a year later, a confident young man approached me at a Habitat for Humanity event. He delivered a firm handshake and asked if I remembered who he was. I couldn’t quite place him. “I’m Brian,” he said. “You met me at Ferris. I gave you the drawing. Look at me now.”

A bit stunned, I asked if he was working for Habitat for Humanity. He wasn’t. He was just volunteering in his free time while studying to be a nurse. And he was positively glowing.

I think about Brian whenever I see his drawing hanging in my office. It reminds me of the potential in every Delawarean. Unleashing that potential is one of the most important things we can do.

Unrealized potential has always been a human tragedy. Now, it is also an economic calamity. The premium in today’s economy is on the human factor – the creativity, talent, and drive in every one of us. A society that squanders the potential of its people is a society that lets its future slip away.

A bright future belongs to the states and nations that empower all of their citizens, transforming those who rely on government resources into contributors to our community. That bright future belongs to places where people like Brian get trained, find good jobs, and build better tomorrows.

That future will belong to us if we commit to unleash the potential in every Delawarean. How we do that is what I want to talk about today.

First and foremost, unleashing that potential requires that Delawareans have the opportunity to work.

Before the end of the decade, 60 percent of our jobs will require training beyond high school. And yet only 20 percent of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career. (translated SAT score over 1550.)

The path to middle-class security is not what it was 30 years ago. So, our approach to career preparation can’t be either.

Let’s ensure that all of our children are on a path to realizing their full potential – whether they choose to pursue a degree or take an accelerated career path.

First, we need to make sure that every Delaware student who can succeed in college gets off to a great start. Last week, I spoke at a White House event where 100 college presidents announced new commitments to expanding college access. Because of our commitment to be first in the nation working to expand college opportunities statewide, Delaware was the only state recognized.

Thanks to our partnership with the College Board, we are identifying students with the potential to thrive in college, but who would likely not apply, often because of financial concerns. They have received letters from some of the nation’s top colleges, including those from Delaware’s institutions, encouraging them to apply, waiving their application fees, and offering financial support.

They are students like Afoma Mbanefo of Christiana High School, who was born in Nigeria to parents who never dreamed of going to college. After receiving the information we sent, she applied and has been accepted to six institutions, including the honors program at the University of Delaware. Afoma is with us today. Congratulations!

We have 1,000 students in Delaware like Afoma who are capable of succeeding in college, but who do not attend. We can get that number to zero.

We know that students who are challenged in high school with college-level material often rise to the occasion. Studies show that when these students get a taste of college academics, they are twice as likely to enroll and persist to a second year in college.

I propose a scholarship program so that all low-income Delaware students with college potential can take credit-bearing courses during their senior year.

As we send more of our students into higher education, we need to make sure that they have a roadmap from the classroom to employment, and that our major employers are working with our universities so that our youth are prepared for the workforce. I’m pleased to announce today that DuPont has agreed to partner with our colleges on this effort.

They will work to identify skills needed for entry-level positions, match those skills with courses offered by our colleges, and provide internships. By completing identified courses and practical experiences, they will put students on a fast-track for opportunities, including full-time jobs.

We look forward to other employers joining DuPont on this initiative.

Let’s also ensure that those students who choose an accelerated career path – one that doesn’t involve a degree – get a head start on their futures.

This fall, we will roll out a new two-year comprehensive program in manufacturing technologies for high school juniors and seniors. The program will focus on mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering – and will lead to nationally recognized manufacturing certificates.

It’s modeled after a partnership between Delaware Tech and Red Clay which allows students to attend classes at their home school, while augmenting what they learn by providing access to manufacturing equipment at Delaware Tech.

To make our new program even more meaningful, it also must include real world experience. And that’s where a new public-private partnership comes into play.

The Delaware Manufacturing Association and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are working with us to identify members willing to offer real world opportunities during the summer between junior and senior year. Whether it takes the form of hands-on work or job shadowing, direct exposure to the workplace is crucial. Several manufacturers already have answered this call to action, including Agilent, Siemens, PBF and PPG.

Matching skilled workers with available jobs is critical. Thanks to our new JobLink capability, it’s easier than ever for employers to search our database for employees with the skills they need.

In the last year, hundreds of employers have taken advantage of our new tools to find employees, and those inquiries led to hundreds of new hires at places such as Cabelas, Sitel and Grayling Industries.

All of our efforts will be most successful when Delaware businesses collaborate with Delaware educational institutions. So I propose creating a competitive grant program to fund public-private partnerships between employers and our schools and colleges that will develop the skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce.

Finally, too many working Delawareans struggle to care for their families and put food on the table. I am glad that the General Assembly is poised to increase the minimum wage. Thank you for helping so many hardworking Delawareans.

Our ability to put Delawareans to work depends in part on whether we build on our legacy of innovation. We have a rich history of invention in Delaware, and it’s time to write a new chapter. From the ashes of the old Chrysler plant is rising a new center of innovation that promises to do just that, the Science, Technology and Advanced Research campus.

The STAR campus represents the potential of university-based innovation to transform industries and spawn new companies. Academic research in Delaware contributed to the technologies that led to smartphones and tablets. Work done by Nobel Laureate and UD Professor Richard (What The?)Heck yielded chemical processes used in pharmaceuticals, energy, and electronics.

To encourage that kind of research, I ask that you invest in innovation by creating a $2 million matching grant program that will leverage federal dollars in support of research that will create the jobs of tomorrow.

One of the most promising areas for research that will have an impact on our economy is cybersecurity. From the financial information held by Delaware’s many banks to the technologies being developed by area science companies, our economy is only as secure as the networks that hold our personal data and intellectual property. As customers of Target and many other companies know, hacking and cyber attacks represent a huge threat.

Staying ahead of this challenge is something we and our employers need to do to protect our citizens and our customers, and it is good for our economy. Hundreds of unfilled jobs in this sector exist in Delaware today.

Our institutions of higher education are positioning themselves to take a leadership role in this area, and I am pleased to join with them to launch the Delaware Cyber Initiative.

Located on the STAR campus, this initiative will be a public-private partnership between the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Tech and the private sector. It will feature a collaborative learning and research network dedicated to cyber innovation, and I’m proud to say it will tap into the resources of the 166th Network Warfare Squadron of the Delaware National Guard.

Unleashing the potential of our economy also demands world-class infrastructure. The ability to move goods and services efficiently, connect to cutting-edge information technology infrastructure, and access cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy, is essential to every industry in our state.

For years, Delawareans tried to avoid the interchange of I-95 and Route 1. But our investment in new fly-over ramps has alleviated congestion, shortening commutes, shipping times, and trips to the beach.

We are making similar improvements at I-95 and 202. That exit ramp was a notorious chokepoint, but improvements have cut the average number of hours per day of slowing traffic from six to less than one.

DelDOT will soon begin construction on the long-awaited West Dover Connector. In Sussex County, DelDOT is widening SR 26. And across Delaware, new and improved bike paths are improving our quality of life.

Infrastructure investments create high-paying, middle-class jobs today and they lay the foundation for future prosperity. It’s time to stop complaining about the sorry shape of our Transportation Trust Fund and fix the underlying issues.

I propose that we invest $1.1 billion over five years, a $500 million increase over our current financial plan. Let’s improve our transportation network for generations to come and put thousands of Delawareans to work.

We need to invest beyond our road network.

As Speaker Schwartzkopf and Senator Simpson know full well, investment in our parks, wildlife areas, beaches and other recreational amenities help attract millions of tourists, who in turn spend hundreds of millions of dollars and support thousands of jobs at restaurants, hotels and retail shops across our state.

Look specifically at our waterways. Water is the foundation of our tourism industry. It’s vital to agriculture, manufacturing, and everything that we do.

Yet a century of pollution has impaired nearly every waterway in our state. While we have significantly reduced air pollution and cleaned up brownfields, far too many streams remain unsafe, as Senator Lopez keeps reminding us.

We can’t eat our fish from the St. Jones. We can’t swim in too many parts of the inland bays. The Christina and Brandywine rivers are laced with toxic pollutants.

This is embarrassing. This is unacceptable. We must change it.

This won’t be easy or cheap – but it is achievable. We must upgrade wastewater and drinking water plants and improve stormwater infrastructure. And we must use cutting-edge technologies to remove toxic substances, like we are doing right outside this building at Mirror Lake thanks to the strong advocacy of Senator Bushweller.

To work toward these goals, next month, I will propose the Clean Water for Delaware’s Future Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to clean up our waterways within a generation. Some much faster than that.

In our time, this will create jobs. In our kids’ time, we will revitalize communities across our state. We owe future generations clean water. It’s that simple.

We all agree that a quality education is essential for anyone seeking to unleash his or her potential – and this begins at a very early age. Teachers tell us that the number one barrier to academic success is when kids do not come to school ready to learn.

Six years ago, Senator Blevins set us on a path to improve the quality of our children’s early learning experiences, as prime sponsor of the legislation that created the Stars quality rating system in Delaware. The Stars program has provided the critical base for the investments we have made over the last several years.

We have made significant progress. Last year alone the number of low-income children attending a high quality program increased by 50 percent. That means 2,200 more children are getting better opportunities to be prepared for success in school.

I am grateful to Senator Blevins and all of the members of the General Assembly for your support of early childhood education opportunities for low-income Delawareans.

But our work on behalf of our most vulnerable children isn’t done. We can do more to support the national Nurse Family Partnership program, through which nurses visit first-time, low-income mothers, and teach them how to care for their newborns. The results around the country have been stunning, including better academic performance, less juvenile delinquency and better overall child health outcomes.

As our next step, I propose that we more than double the number of first-time mothers who are served in Delaware by this proven program. That would give us a higher percentage of eligible mothers who are benefiting from this program than in any other state in America.

I want to thank Lt. Governor Matt Denn for championing this proposal.

We are making significant strides in our schools, thanks to this General Assembly, including education chairs Senator Sokola and Representative Scott, and so many talented educators across our state.

The world language immersion programs you funded now have 850 students in ten schools spending half of their school days learning in either Chinese or Spanish. Parents of those students have been thrilled with the results, telling us these programs have enriched their children’s education.

Our professional learning communities and implementation of higher standards are producing positive results. Two-thirds of our educators say their improved professional development is having a positive impact in their classrooms.

We are particularly focused on supporting our teachers of science, technology, engineering and math. Many jobs of the future will be in these STEM fields. But we have trouble recruiting and retaining talented STEM teachers who have more lucrative options.

Today I’m delighted to announce that this fall the Delaware STEM Council, in partnership with Ashland, will be giving awards to support our best STEM teachers, so they can share effective teaching strategies.

The magic of education happens with our teachers. It doesn’t happen in Legislative Hall or in my office. But if you look at the way we fund education, you would think politicians have all the answers.

State government sets rigid funding formulas that determine how many assistant principals, reading instructors, and administrative assistants a school will have. In fact, we have one of the most rigid funding systems in the country. This leaves little room for school leaders – those who know our students best – to innovate, create a vision, and pursue it.

It is time to give those school leaders more flexibility to make a difference in our kids’ education.

Starting in a handful of districts, I propose that we give school leaders the ability to spend some portion of their state resources in implementing their own school improvement plans. We should track their choices, measure the results, and see how we can best provide greater flexibility to more schools.

I thank Representative Heffernan for taking the lead on this issue.

Unleashing every student’s potential also demands that we make it more attractive for our best teachers to continue doing what they love – teaching. Since last year, my administration has been listening to educators about how we might set up a compensation system that attracts and retains great teachers.

Our best teachers deserve a path to receive additional compensation for pursuing leadership opportunities while remaining in the classroom.

We also must recognize that our starting salaries are not competitive with our neighbors.

I want to thank the Delaware State Education Association and the teachers who are working with us on an improved approach to educator compensation. We are pleased with the progress we’ve made, but there is still work to do and I hope we will be in a position to introduce legislation this spring.

Much of our success as a state will depend upon whether our cities are safe and vibrant.

We know revitalizing neighborhoods is an important part of making our streets safer. We can replicate the success other communities have had in strengthening neighborhoods, while also harnessing the attraction that vibrant downtowns hold for talented young people and innovative small businesses.

To do so, I propose we create “Downtown Development Districts” – a small number of designated areas in our cities that will qualify for development incentives and a host of other benefits in housing and transportation. Builders looking to make investments in these Districts would receive grants for a percentage of their investment.

I propose dedicating $7 million toward these kinds of projects, which will leverage tens of millions of dollars in private capital. And more importantly, this program can improve our housing stock and revitalize our downtowns.

Making our downtowns more vibrant and safer must start with Wilmington. Wilmington is the business capital of the state and our cultural center, yet violent crime has engulfed neighborhoods and taken many lives. When people do not feel safe in their communities, little else matters.

There is no quick fix. Mayor Williams has a significant task ahead of him. But it will take all of us doing our part – all levels of government, neighborhood leaders, faith communities, businesses – all of us. The Delaware State Police, Secretary Schiliro, Attorney General Biden, New Castle County Executive Gordon, and others all stand ready to help address the crime problems in Wilmington and beyond.

Far too often, gun violence is committed by shooters who cannot legally own guns, so it is critical that we do a better job tracing these weapons back to their sources. We must redouble our efforts to confront the gun-trafficking that is escalating the gang wars.

To do so, I am proposing a new division of special investigations within the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that will focus on gun-trafficking.

At the same time, we must place as much focus on addressing the causes of crime. Much crime is committed by people with substance abuse problems. Seventy-one percent of men arrested in 10 U.S. cities in 2011 tested positive for an illegal substance.

Too often, our solution is to simply throw the drug user in prison, but many of these individuals need treatment more than a prison guard.

For many addicts, it’s possible to deal with their disease successfully and go on to live happy, productive lives. There are stories like the young man recovering from a life-threatening addiction to heroin and becoming a business owner.

Or a teenage girl who lapsed into drug and alcohol use following her father’s suicide and landed in jail, but with assistance of a drug court program overcame her addiction and got a college education.

We all know people with addictions who, with the right intervention, could live fulfilling lives. It’s time for us to put into practice what we already know: addiction is a disease. It can and must be treated.

Representatives Keeley, Barbieri and Mulrooney along with Senators Henry and Hall Long, together with Secretary Landgraf and my wife, Carla, are reviewing the addiction treatment needs in our state and the resources available to meet those needs.

Later this year, I will propose changes that better align our resources to fill the gaps in our drug treatment system and I look forward to working with you to fill these gaps.

We cannot meet the potential of our great state and our great country if we give up on a great number of our people. Today, America incarcerates more than 2 million people, and each year we release more than 700,000 inmates. 25 years ago, the total number of people incarcerated was 700,000.

For released inmates, their criminal record makes it difficult to be productive members of society.

There are those who belong behind bars and it is worth every penny we spend to keep them there. But when a person has served their time, it’s up to them – and to us – to make sure they transition effectively, achieve their potential and contribute to society.

In 2009, with the leadership of Secretary McMahon and Director Ben Addi, we began our I-ADAPT initiative to help offenders prepare for their eventual release by giving them some of what they need to return to our communities: identification, access to medical care, a transition plan, job training opportunities.

Five years of experience has taught us that those little things make a big difference. But for many offenders there is one thing we can’t give them – a driver’s license. Many offenders guilty of drug offenses are denied a driver’s license – regardless of whether their crime had anything to do with a car. This penalty is just one more punishment that prevents them from seeking employment and accessing job training.

This should change. I ask you to eliminate the arbitrary loss of a drivers’ license for crimes that have nothing to do with automobiles.

Too many of the inmates we release end up going back to prison. One of the best predictors of whether a person will commit another crime is whether they have a job. If we know employing ex-offenders helps make our communities safer, why are we putting so many hurdles in the way of job opportunities for ex-offenders?

We need to start by looking at employment discrimination against people who have repaid their debt to society. Here is an example: If there is one employer in Delaware that should be able to decide whether hiring an ex-offender makes sense, it’s the Department of Correction. But the Department is prohibited from hiring anyone with a felony record, even on a part-time basis.

As Representative J.J. Johnson has suggested, we can do better.

Many communities have started to “ban the box” on job applications by eliminating the box that says “check here if you’ve been convicted of a crime.” I believe we should ban the box for state government hires this year.

Let’s stop denying ex-offenders their first interview. Let’s be a model for the private sector, because marginalizing ex-offenders helps none of us.

Delaware’s incarceration rate is higher than the national average in a country whose average is higher than the rest of the world’s. That’s not a point of pride, it’s incredibly expensive, and it hasn’t worked.

We lock up too many people for not making bail and not appearing at hearings. Forty percent of the women incarcerated at Baylor are pre-trial detainees, many charged with nonviolent offenses.

Based on guidance from Commissioner Coupe, I propose that we pilot, in the city of Wilmington, a program of pre-trial community supervision for nonviolent offenders. Based on a model from New York, this pilot program will allow the Department of Correction and social service providers to help get offenders to hearings and avoid trouble while awaiting trial.

By supervising some offenders, we can keep them out of prison in the first place and link them with services to address addictions or mental health concerns in the community, and not a prison cell.

In addition to filling our prisons with pre-trial detainees, we also impose longer sentences than other states do. One reason is that we are the only state in the country that forces our judges, without exception, to impose consecutive rather than concurrent sentences for multiple offenses.

That hasn’t made us any safer and contributes to overcrowding in our prisons. I ask you to join me in giving judges greater discretion when it comes to concurrent and consecutive sentencing.

Lastly, we need to change the trajectory of kids who enter the criminal justice system at a young age.

Many of these kids are bright and full of potential. And, after living in a facility with structure, education, and medical care, they have the same goals and determination as any of our kids.

But here is the reality. As well as those kids do while they are in a secure facility, when they leave our care, they often return to the same exact circumstances that led them to us in the first place, only now they are returning with the burden of a juvenile record. Many of them won’t complete their education.

Of 184 kids in custody at our Faulkland Road campus last year, only 11 were back in traditional schools six months later. Many kids drop out, are expelled or are re-incarcerated. This is our failure. We have seen the progress many of them make while under our care and we must do better when they transition away from our facilities.

I am asking you to fund community-based advocates to work with these families and kids after they leave the custody of the Kids Department. A 15-year-old doesn’t know how to access mental health services, re-enroll in school, and get on a path to success. These advocates can make that happen.

We also need to break the cycle of incarceration by getting these kids back into school. I am asking Secretary Ranji to lead a task force focused on how to get these children into an educational environment that is sensitive to their unique challenges and experiences.

One of my favorite parts about being governor is that I get to meet Delawareans from every walk of life. The budding entrepreneur. The ex-con trying to get back on his feet. The first-generation college student. The third-generation farmer. The excited new mother. The hopeful immigrant.

And you know what? We all really want the same thing. We want to give life our very best shot. We want to make the most of the talents God has given us.

Much has been written in recent months about inequality in America. About a lack of economic mobility, declining incomes for working families, and a shrinking middle class. About a lack of opportunity for people born into difficult circumstances or who make a poor decision early in life.

The very promise of America – the essence of the American dream – is that while we are not guaranteed equal outcomes, we are guaranteed equal opportunities to achieve our potential.

That’s why in recent years, we have focused so much on strengthening our schools, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing our quality of life.

That’s why, with the help of Representative Melanie Smith and Senator Greg Lavelle, we passed the Justice Reinvestment Act to rehabilitate and not just incarcerate.

That’s why we passed new laws to make it clear that Delaware is a welcoming state no matter whom you love.

We do all of this because of our core value – our shared belief – that we all stand to gain when everyone gets a fair shot.

Isn’t that why we’re here?

Years from now – after the roads have been built; after today’s kindergartners have retired from jobs we helped create; after our cities thrive and our waters run clean; the people of Delaware may not remember us by name or know about the laws we passed or the bills we debated.

But in the end, that’s not what’s important. What they will know is that we were here for them and that our focus was to unleash the potential of every Delawarean now and help ensure that future generations will be able to go further than we could ever have dreamed.

I know we have the resolve to do our part to realize the promise of our great state of Delaware.

Thank you. God bless you and all the people of Delaware!

RED –Education

GREEN==Environment

ORANGE== Jobs

BLUE== Justice

VIOLET== Infrastructure

(Btw the headline was exactly how Allan Loudell read off the news at 4:00; I laughed out loud.)