Only 20% of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career.
Too many working Delawareans struggle to care for their families and put food on the table.
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. . . .[A] century of pollution has impaired nearly every waterway in our state.
We have one of the most rigid [public education] 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.
Our starting salaries [for teachers] are not competitive with our neighbors.
Wilmington is the business capital of the state and our cultural center, yet violent crime has engulfed neighborhoods and taken many lives.
Far too often, gun violence is committed by shooters who cannot legally own guns . . .
Many offenders guilty of drug offenses are denied a driver’s license – regardless of whether their crime had anything to do with a car.
Delaware’s incarceration rate is higher than the national average in a country whose average is higher than the rest of the world’s.
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 non-violent offenses.
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.
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.
And the conclusion one is supposed to reach when considering all that?
The state of our state is stronger today than when I addressed you a year ago.So what I'm hearing is that a public education system failing (supposedly) 80% of its graduates despite tens of millions of additional Federal investments; a high population of struggling, working poor (25% of our State population is on Medicaid); all of our waterways are polluted; we have a bad education funding system that doesn't pay competitive salaries; Wilmington is engulfed with violent crimes committed primarily by people whom last year's gun control measures wouldn't touch; we punish non-violent drug offenders by taking away their ability to travel (like, forever); we lock up way too many people; our bail system discriminates against the poor; our judges are required to give ridiculous sentences; and our rehabilitation efforts are dismal failures . . .
. . . but this represents PROGRESS?
Wow, if this year the State of Delaware is so much improved over last year, I wonder what Governor Markell said about it then?
Oddly enough, in that speech, Governor Markell never mentioned that 80% of our graduates are not college ready--he only talked about what great schools we have.
Oddly enough, in that speech, Governor Markell never mentioned the fact that all of our waterways are polluted.
Oddly enough, in that speech, Governor Markell promised strong action by Attorney General Beau Biden and the Delaware State Police that was going to make a dent in violent crime in Wilmington [this year, according to the Governor, it's pretty much the Mayor's problem].
Oddly enough, in that speech, Governor Markell didn't identify Delaware as incarcerating too many people or failing in our rehabilitation efforts.
Oddly enough, in that speech, our need for massive infrastructure improvements that are the cornerstone of longstanding need this year, are never highlighted and no investment is requested.
Oddly enough, in that speech, Governor Markell closes by telling us he is committed to pruning the budget, keeping our taxes low, and avoiding too much debt.
I am forced to conclude that one of the figures giving the State of the State speech in 2013 or 2014 was not really Jack Markell, but an evil alien duplicate who was sent to Earth to ruin a Democratic Governor's credibility by making him say completely contradictory things.
Then I remembered: this is Delaware, silly, where it is a bigger misdeed to talk about how our politicians are jerking us around than it is for them to jerk us around in the first place.