Written on: May 11th, 2015 in Job Creation
Those of us who have spent most of our lives in Delaware know what DuPont means to this state. We travel the duPont Highway, attend schools named after duPont family members, and tour former duPont estates. The presence of the duPont family and the great company that they built here in Delaware is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to take for granted.
But the greatest legacy of DuPont in Delaware isn’t found in estates, school names, or highways – it’s in generations of good jobs at the DuPont Company.
For more than 200 years, people have come to Delaware to work for DuPont. From immigrants seeking jobs in the gunpowder mills to chemists inventing the products that defined the 20th century, DuPont’s presence in Delaware created good jobs that supported families, built nest eggs (often with company stock) and sent kids to college.
For generations, a strong DuPont Company helped build a strong Delaware. And Delawareans helped build a strong DuPont.
Two centuries of growth and job creation don’t happen by accident. They happened because the management of the DuPont Company knew that leadership in the economies of yesterday, today, and tomorrow requires constant innovation and change. What was once a company that milled gunpowder became a leader in plastics. What was once a company that touted “Better Living Through Chemistry” is today a world leader in biotechnology and renewable fuels.
DuPont’s leaders of today have the same spirit of innovation and invention that drove their forebears. DuPont is using science to develop innovative products to solve global challenges. It is providing for healthier foods, more efficient and safer energy, stronger infrastructure, and enhanced transportation through sustainable advanced materials.
Much of that work is happening right here in Delaware. From DuPont’s Wilmington Experimental Station to its Stine-Haskell Research Center in Newark, the innovation that will shape our economy and our lives in the future is happening in our state.
Yet the DuPont we all know is now under attack.
Trian Fund Management has bought millions of shares of the company and is now seeking to unseat some of the company’s board members in favor of its own nominees. At root, Trian’s purpose is to drive returns for the fund, not by growing DuPont or expanding its history of innovation, but by cutting the company into pieces.
Trian’s agenda should worry all of us – not only as shareholders or avid watchers of DuPont – but also as Delawareans.
Trian’s agenda is about cutting costs to drive profits, not creating new products. Where are the $2 billion to $4 billion in costs that Trian wants to cut? Many are right here in Delaware. When Trian calls for cutting corporate overhead, it could be talking about your neighbor’s job. When the firm talks about spinning off corporate divisions, it could be talking about moving management jobs from Delaware to somewhere else.
And most important is what Trian is not talking about – investing in research and development to create the products of tomorrow.
This sort of short-term financial engineering is designed to create quick returns – not long-term value for workers, shareholders, and communities.
Trian’s short-term plans are not going to seed the growth of neighborhoods and quality jobs in the future. And they ignore DuPont’s contributions of assisting the jobless of Wilmington, helping build the Wilmington Institute Free Library, creating the Hagley Museum, and supporting the Delaware Art Museum.
CEO Ellen Kullman is the kind of DuPont leader who, like her predecessors, has an aggressive drive to innovate and reshape the company to thrive in the markets of tomorrow. She has made tough choices like selling businesses that were no longer core to DuPont’s future success and spinning-off the company Chemours, which I hope will create its own distinguished record of innovation and experimentation.
Throughout these changes, Kullman has been focused on creating a stronger DuPont – a company that is investing in the cutting edge science that will drive the economy of tomorrow. And she has done it from here in Delaware.
This week’s proxy vote is about the strategic vision of a company with a record on investment that has improved the quality of life of Delawareans and people around the world. It’s about whether DuPont should pursue a path of continued leadership in innovations that support jobs, long-term shareholder earnings, and community investment – or sacrifice those tremendous benefits to try to turn a quick profit for some investors. For 200 years, our “return on investment” in DuPont has been a stronger community and quality jobs. A strong DuPont has yielded a strong Delaware, and it is my hope that another Delaware governor, 200 years from now, will say the same.
Written on: April 22nd, 2015 in Education
With the next presidential campaign getting under way, pundits have quickly focused more on the horse race than on where the candidates stand on important issues like improving public education.
One area that deserves far more attention is the array of proposals to divert public spending on education into private school vouchers or “education savings accounts” that can be used for private and parochial schools, home schooling, and other programs that aren’t part of the public education system.
These policies, already enacted in several states and proposed in several more, are a reminder that privatization is not a ready-made solution for every government problem.
Here’s why these programs don’t produce results for our students.
Everyone agrees that solid academics are the foundation for career and college readiness. Yet, according to a review by the Center on Education Policy, numerous studies have concluded that vouchers, the prime example of privatization, “don’t have a strong effect on students’ academic achievement.” If voucher programs are motivated by a desire to improve educational outcomes for our young people, and not simply to divert public spending to private education, then their unsettled and uneven history does not support continuing them.
Compounding this problem is that the private and parochial schools that receive tax dollars are, in many cases, not accountable for providing a quality education to young people, particularly those most at risk of falling behind.
In the public school system, states are required to establish baseline expectations of accountability through standards and testing. Although hardly beloved, standardized-test scores are the most effective method we have to identify which students need our help, which is why civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Negro College Fund have been among the most vocal advocates for statewide assessments. They know it is most often poor, minority students—those who most need our help—who most often don’t receive the education they need. When we don’t provide a valid way to measure students’ achievement and hold educators and schools accountable for their academic growth, those students are too easily forgotten.
Children in home, parochial, and private schools aren’t required to take state assessments. State officials can’t track these students’ growth to make sure they don’t fall behind. Private school teachers and home-schooling parents aren’t required to teach to the state’s educational standards; and they don’t have to be rigorously licensed or certified like public school educators.
Voucher systems also divert millions of taxpayer dollars out of our public schools. While we should respect and encourage parental engagement and choice of schools—including private, parochial, and home schools—for their children, it is not acceptable to divert limited public education funding at the cost of the public schools that serve our communities.
Public funding for these voucher programs also presents significant policy issues because so many schools affected include a religious component in their curriculum. In general, the government should not be in the business of funding programs or institutions that promote one religion over all others.
But being against vouchers for these reasons isn’t enough. Political leaders have a responsibility to articulate a clear vision for what an improved public school system looks like.
That means using parent choice among traditional, charter, and magnet schools to foster innovative instruction, and hold public schools accountable for giving students the best opportunities possible.
It means demanding more rigorous college and career standards like the common core.
It means providing better support for our teachers, including training them to use data about student achievement effectively, and evaluating them appropriately.
It means more dual-enrollment and Advanced Placement courses to challenge students and reduce the cost of college.
It means investing in high-quality early-childhood programs so all kids enter kindergarten ready to learn.
And it means recognizing that too many of our students arrive at school hungry and from traumatic family situations. Serving these children effectively requires different types of training and community resources.
I agree with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that policymakers should be “more daring” when it comes to education policy. But that must mean pushing the public school system to improve, not following the suggestions of a number of candidates for president and state lawmakers who would use taxpayer money on unaccountable programs that ultimately cut funding from public schools.
Written on: April 10th, 2015 in Helping Our Neighbors
The late American author and poet Maya Angelou wrote that “when we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” Every year, thousands of Delawareans put those words into action, affirming that ours is a state of neighbors. The Week of Service, which runs April 12-18, is an opportunity to highlight the contributions of our friends and neighbors who improve the lives of others and to encourage us all to support worthy causes however we can.
People volunteer in ways that are meaningful to them – mentoring children, delivering meals to seniors or serving the disabled. Others renovate dilapidated buildings, beautify our natural resources and give struggling families a path to self-sufficiency.
They are people of every age and from every walk of life, from Emalie Lawson, a student at Dover High School who started the “My Own Books,” to improve childhood literacy in Kent County, to Marilee Bradley, who at 92 is still actively raising funds for projects and awareness about the Stockley Center in Georgetown. Marilee has spent 45 years advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
In the past year, we have honored extraordinary efforts by Delaware residents to help people recover from addiction, raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, work at free tax clinics, provide free legal aid to disabled veterans and much more.
The service of Emalie, Marilee and so many others like them is making a big difference for our state and our people. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, each year in Delaware:
• 75 percent of the people help their neighbors.
• 188,000 people volunteer.
• 22 million hours of volunteer service are performed.
The cost to Delawareans if these services were not done by volunteers would be some $490 million or an extra $1,430 for every household in the state. But the benefits to those in need and to the community are not the only benefits. Volunteering gives a sense of purpose, provides opportunities for physical activity and helps people live longer, more fulfilling lives.
When my husband was first sworn in as governor, we were overwhelmed by the response we received when we declared a statewide weekend of service in lieu of the traditional inaugural ball. Thousands of friends and families and people of all ages responded by helping those in need that weekend and every year since during what has become a full week of service.
We are asking Delawareans to again donate your time and energy. Look around your community or visit volunteerdelaware.org to find ways to volunteer this week, and every week. The 2015 Week of Service also coincides with the recent launch of a new program to make the most of Delawareans’ instinctive generosity. Volunteer Delaware 50+ will help individuals age 50 and over find the best opportunities to use their skills and talents across an array of activities that support their communities. The state has partnered with dozens of not-for-profit organizations involved with education, literacy, health and wellness, the arts, protecting the environment and many other important community needs.
Volunteers in the program receive benefits including:
• Personal attention and assistance from dedicated Volunteer Delaware 50+ staff.
• Liability insurance while volunteering.
•Introduction to a broad range of volunteer opportunities to match your interests and skills with community needs – opportunities which are one-time or ongoing.
• Tracking of your service hours.
• Recognition events.
The fastest-growing population in Delaware is the senior population, with more seniors living longer and more active lives. Research shows that volunteering can have a profound impact on our health, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s, lowering instances of depression and promoting physical activity.
For those 50 and older, Volunteer Delaware 50+ will be there to provide personalized support and guidance in finding a rewarding service opportunity.
The most important measure of Delaware’s progress and quality of life is whether as many Delawareans as possible have the best chance to reach their potential. We know government, businesses, and nonprofits all play a role, but we all have responsibility to provide for each other.
To learn more about volunteering, Volunteer Delaware 50+ and the annual Week of Service opportunities, please visit www.volunteerdelaware.org. Your time, talent and experience can ensure a bright future for all of our residents. Thank you for all you do to make this a better Delaware.
Carla Markell is Delaware’s first lady. This blog post was originally published in The News Journal.
Written on: March 11th, 2015 in Job Creation
The U.S. economy is experiencing a breakthrough year. Nearly 300,000 new jobs were created in February. That is part of the 12 million private-sector jobs created over five straight years of job growth. And the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 % — the lowest rate in seven years.
We’ve gone from an economic crisis to recovery to the cusp of an economic resurgence. But there’s one thing we have to do to continue the momentum: train America’s workforce for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.
Right now there are five million unfilled jobs in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing, and clean energy. That’s more job openings than at any point since 2001. More than half a million of these job are in technology fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity. Many of these jobs didn’t even exist just a decade ago. Many of them pay 50 percent more than other private-sector jobs.
These are good-paying, middle-class jobs that you can raise a family on. But when these jobs go begging, it’s a missed opportunity for workers, for businesses, and our economy.
Last summer, the Vice President released a comprehensive report detailing specific ways to seize the opportunity. Based off the report, the Administration launched TechHire yesterday — a bold public-private initiative to equip more Americans with the skills they need for in-demand technology jobs.
TechHire brings together more than 20 cities, states, and rural communities — including Delaware — to fill open technology jobs in new ways. Traditionally, employers recruit students with computer science degrees from a four-year college, often overlooking quality candidates graduating from our community colleges, serving in our military, or learning on their own. But TechHire communities will break the mold and help local employers hire workers based on skill rather than where or if they went to college. They also will promote faster training programs, like three to six month “coding bootcamps” and online courses. And they will engage with the private sector to make it easier for someone to know exactly what skills are needed for a job, where to go to get those skills, and where to go to apply for the job.
This new model has the profound potential to reach people who are too often underrepresented in technology fields—women, minorities, veterans, and lower-income workers who are absolutely capable of doing the job if given the chance.
In Delaware, several of the state’s biggest employers are joining the effort as part of the Governor’s “Pathways to Prosperity initiative.” They plan to fill thousands of technology jobs through accelerated training programs at local colleges and at a “coding school” launching this fall. Six employers, including JP Morgan Chase and Capital One, have committed to hire people who successfully complete these short-term programs, which will allow them to become software developers in months rather than years.
TechHire is an important step forward if we want all Americans to benefit from the changing economy. But we need more cities and states to incorporate initiatives like it into their economic development plans.
That’s because we know one thing for certain: Americans are ready to take on these jobs. They want to provide for themselves and their families. We’ve met them in Delaware and across the country. We’ve seen the real courage it requires to take a chance, learn a new skill or new language like coding, and say, “I can do this.”
That’s what this is all about. By helping workers fill the hundreds of thousands of 21st Century jobs that await them, we can capture this gigantic opportunity that’s good for our workers, our businesses, and our economy.
That’s how we ensure a permanent resurgence of the most dynamic economy in the world led by the most skilled workers in the world.