November 16, 2009
It’s an honor join all of you here once again,… Let me begin by saying thank you for all your hard work. The challenges we’re addressing are not easy challenges. Together we’ve been working on what amounts to the most sweeping education reforms in a generation – and we’ve been doing it in times when all of us, much like our families, are having to do more with less.
The good news is that we’re making significant progress toward our goals for creating and protecting Maryland jobs, and transitioning our State from recession to recovery to prosperity.
Our unemployment rate is nearly 27% below the national average – and has remained stable since May; our unemployment claims are at their lowest levels since September 2008; we’re one of only 6 states to continue to earn a Triple A Bond Rating; and because of the hard work of so many in this room, we have, as you know, what Education Week Magazine says are the #1 best public schools in America.
None of this happens by chance, it’s by choice. The choices we’re making together as One Maryland; The choices, recommendations, and actions of the people on this Council.
As we work to continue our efforts to create and save Maryland jobs and grow our economy, the work of this Council could not be more important.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the Chamber of Commerce, and to announce our Administration’s 10 Point Strategy for Strengthening Small and Family Owned Businesses.
Part of this strategy is the work that this Council has been doing since its inception: strengthening our workforce through things like college and workforce preparedness, STEM, CTE, and principal and teacher recruitment and retention.
We’d all agree that the keys to our recovery and our future prosperity are truly about three things: Jobs. Jobs. And Jobs. It’s all about jobs, and it’s all connected.
Race to the Top & The Connections Which Drive Progress
In many ways, the work of this Council is metaphoric to everything we’re trying to do together as a State. The mission of the Council is about connection – whether it’s the connection between our K-12 community and higher ed; between our educators and our businesses; our stakeholders and our state government.
The goals we face are connected as well. Goals like creating and sustaining jobs and strengthening and growing the ranks of an increasingly diverse and upwardly mobile middle class; improving public safety and public education in every part of our State; and expanding opportunity to more people rather than fewer.
Our challenges are also connected,… the great 21st century challenges of leading in skills and education, leading in sustainability, and leading in security – challenges which depend on our ability to advance innovation; to find new ways to transform our economy so that we can create jobs and expand opportunity.
This sort of progress depends on the work of this Council – and last week we saw a clear illustration of why your hard work matters, with the Obama Administration’s announcement of criteria for “Race to the Top” grants.
All of us believe that the State with the #1 school system in America – the State which ranks #1 in the ways we’re targeting and tracking our Recovery and Reinvestment Funding – should have the upper hand. If you look at the criteria, I believe we do.
Why do I say this? Because the Administration listed criteria like STEM; principal and teacher recruitment, retention and professional development; and strong connections and partnerships among education stakeholders. In other words, all the things this Council is focused on.
It’s all about jobs and it’s all about connections. Thank you again for your hard work. I look forward to a productive meeting.