It’s time to give Wilmington a school district
Straight Talk with Charles Potter, Jr. and Company Comcast Channel 28 2-4 p.m. Sunday, October 23
As we look at the performance of Wilmington students in our schools under desegregation, it is time to consider the need for a Wilmington school district. Why?
Wilmington students ride buses for a longer time each day and for more years than suburban students.
Dropout rates among African-American and Latino students exceed 40%
While we must have safe schools, the smallest transgressions by even the youngest students lead to expulsion or placement in alternative schools.
Too many parents are disconnected from our communities, their children and the responsibility to participate in civic life. This contributes to our failures in our schools and communities.
This Sunday, October 25, Straight Talk will be devoted to the next stage of a community discussion on the state of education for Wilmington children. Our panelists, who will consist of elected officials and members of the community, will touch on these and other topics.
I was unable to view this show because I live outside Wilmington limits and have only basic cable.
I am not for re-segregation and perhaps that’s what a Wilmington school district might do. However, taking a look at Red Clay pretty much the city schools are re-segregated.
School Choice is bias because of the transportation disparities between the city’s poor parents and the suburban parents. School Choice was a means in which Red Clay proclaimed they can be racially balanced in respects to the intent of the school desegregation order. Sure all looks fine on paper but the reality is without adequate transportation the city’s poor cannot participate to the level of school Choice as the affluent. The Delaware state legislators failed to realize this disparity and didn’t provide transportation funding for those with out the transportation means. You see, parents are required to get their children to the bus stop with in the school of Choice. Further erosion of school Choice is the fact that Red Clay’s prefered Choice schools are filled to capacity and the school board closed out Choice for some schools. The Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education is turning a blind eye to the Choice disparities.
The City of Wilmington has no traditional public high schools and Red Clay Consolidated School District refuses to open a middle school within Wilmington.
In comes charter schools in the City of Wilmington that are magnets for high poverty predominately African-American students. Many see this as not re-segregation because as one board member puts it, “they choose to apply and attend these schools.” Honestly, what are the choices for the parents and students of poverty and minority in Wilmington? Charlie Copeland and company “God bless them” are opening a charter high school for at-risk students This school will be located in the city.
Were is the trade of for racial diversity and academics? Obviously, desegregation has done nothing to address the achievement gap. One thing for sure, with assignments of poor minority to suburban schools in which white counter parts enjoy reassignment under the Neighborhood School legislation closest to their community. Red Clay builds two new schools and expands others within the suburbs.
I am not saying Red Clay is racist but it’s obvious there is culture disconnect in the rawest form. Poverty is a cash cow for some school districts and Red Clay get’s it share. Many minorities working in Red Clay know the ugliness and dare not speak out. When has Red Clay ever sponsored an event such as an open town hall meaning dealing with racial concerns and disparities within the district? There is no real dialogue on overall race relationships and barrier impacting equitable education. It’s like a taboo subject because someone might slip-up and reveal deep-seeded racial prejudice. For the most part we all have a touch of prejudice and I do feel nothing will change in education of poor minority children until we as a community deal with our demons.
Charter schools are making strong effort to serve poor minorities but we have a flaw funding source that does not factor in the disparities in the allocation of teachers and resources. Our special needs students are server very well with many additional services. Is poverty a disability ? Sure we get federal supplemental funding such as in Title 1. However is it really supplemental or perhaps supplant. Title 1 Reading and Math, do these children get two classes in each subject? Supplemental pretty much means in additions to. In comes out Teacher for America program. Isn’t odd that federal law requires highly qualified teachers those trained in the subject matter for Title 1 students but the Delaware state legislators amended to pretty much waterdown the rules for highly qualifed. I can tell you this, the legislators are not following up and monitoring this sham. Don’t get me wrong these TFA teachers are good people who want to help but often are in over their heads such as, “What have I gotten myself into? I suck at this.” . Yes TFA has compassion but lack the understanding of the differences in address the classroom needs that are often impacted by the community needs out of their reach.
The bottom-line which students will be abandoned and fall in the cracks between traditional public schools and charter schools? We are the voices for those students who have no voice either from parents or the schools?
Now where are the righteous community leaders who proclaim they are children of the civil rights movement? Somehow action can’t be taken unless funding flows. Sometimes it seems the more money that flows the quieter the community is. Payment for subduing the community? Some say a piece of pie is better than none at all. But I say the pie should be share equitably.
The failures in public education are a direct result of failure within the community. The affulent has the money and the means to take what is theirs and the poor rely on voices within to speak up for them. Too many community oraginzation and leaders are on the payroll to a point they fear acting on civil rights issues because their pay will stop.
Public school belongs to the public and quality in public education for all students will return when the public takes back their schools. That will not happen until real “men and women” stand up for their civil rights regarding public education. Relying on Arne Duncan will only put more money in the pockets of the profiteers and do very little in closing the achievement gap.
I agree with Mr. Potter that children of Wilmington need their own schools. I believe it is time for real open dialogue. So who wants to recived the ball and move it foward?
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