Once again, who runs Delaware schools? Our View 2:19 p.m. EST November 30, 2014
The news articles said the city of Wilmington has filed suit to stop the state from closing the Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute. The reality behind the news is that this is just the latest development in the battle over who runs Delaware’s schools.
It is not simply a case of city vs. state. That could be worked out. The real problem is that too many institutions are trying to run the schools and the lines of authority – and responsibility – are not clear. Is it the state? The federal government? The local school districts? Administrators and teachers? All of them have a role. All of them have a say. And at times, all of them are at cross-purposes.
As for Moyer it is a case against the state. If the goal was to ensure all schools / students meet state standards, why aren’t Moyer students being assigned to schools meeting state standards such as Charter School of Wilmington? Many of the Moyer students are former Pncader students and now failed twice by a charter school. The recourse is to send them back to their feeder schools which many aren’t meeting the standards. Also, why are parents allowed to choice their children into schools not meeting the standards? Shouldn’t schools not meeting standards be closed to choice? If not why can’t parents choice their children to Moyer knowing Moyer isn’t meeting the standards?
In addition, what role should governmental units like Wilmington play? The state’s largest city has an almost non-existent say in where its students go to school. It is an arrangement leftover from a decades old desegregation order that divided Wilmington among several school districts.
Yep and we’re back to the question of a Wilmington school district or at best ample traditional middle and high schools within to meet the needs and the letter of the law re: Neighborhood Schools Act! Four traditional school districts in Wilmington is too much and causing fragmentation in community voice! Addressing Wilmington’s crime and education can’t move forward until there is unity in voice and one voice. Honestly, we can’t just rush into radical change overnight. However, at best we need a 10 year plan to reduce the number of traditional school districts in Wilmington and build a solid coalition where people aren’t lining up for a paycheck to reduce the number of traditional school districts to two within five years and study the impact before going to a full stand-alone Wilmington School District. The odds are all the schools that will be forced to closed will be high poverty schools and we’re talking charter schools. Not in this lifetime we’ll we see a traditional public school convert to a charter and if it did what happens if it fails? Convert it back to a traditional school?
All of these questions, including Wilmington’s role, will have to be addressed some day. In the meantime, the tensions caused by these multiple allegiances will lurk in the background of all school discussions.
And now is the time to unify and create one voice! We need to put a freeze on new charter schools in Wilmington and address need-base funding in high poverty schools in the way of more teachers and smaller class sizes.
Wilmington’s suit against the Department of Education centers on the state’s view that the Moyer Institute performs poorly. The DOE wants the school closed because its academic scores have not improved. That may not matter to those behind the suit. Mayor Dennis Williams said the city could not stand by as another Wilmington high school is “put on the chopping block,” as he described it.
Mr. Mayor needs to demand charter schools be required to record their board meetings and post those recordings online within 10 days of the meeting. No way he or his staff or members of a coalition be able to run to and attend every board meeting. However, with recordings online; community leaders, parents and members of a coalition can listen in and be “informed”. No one questioned the Moyer land deal and no one said WTF, Moyer wants to buy it’s own buses right after buying a building! With those buses comes employees with pay and benefits, safety regulations to follow, added liability insurance risk factors, maintenance and more.
The dispute between the state and the Red Clay and Christina school districts over six low-performing “Priority Schools” in Wilmington centers on lines of authority. The state is working from directives issued by the federal government and its Race to the Top money. The local districts object to the rules the state DOE wants in place.
Again, who runs these schools?