We must provide children with the skills they need Delaware Voice Bill Porter
Wilmington has an official slogan: A Place to Be Somebody. For decades though, the educational system serving Wilmington has not delivered on the promise of its people to be just that, particularly among low-income and minority families. If the people of Wilmington lose their promise to be somebody, then the city loses its promise too and puts at risk its economic and social prosperity.
Before I go into my rants, I am going to put some cards on the table. Bill Porter and I do engage each other. We don’t outright disagree with each other and respect the right to disagree. However, our engagement has been enjoyable at least on my end :). So with all due respects to Bill, I am just going to say what comes to mine as I read his article.
Out the gate it wasn’t necessary to poke a finger in the eye of Wilmington’s slogan and as far as not meeting the promise of minorities, we can kick open a big can of worms going back to desegregation particularly Red Clay’s charter school agenda seeded with discrimination.
Keep in mind I haven’t read the entire article and I am going back to read as I write. So my opinion is a work in progress.
Freire Charter School Wilmington doesn’t have to justify it’s being to the extent of failures of others. It’s success should be the selling point and generate desire for parents to enroll their children in this option.
Earlier this year, Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Lee Williams noted in this very paper that within the next 10 years, 60 percent of jobs available in Delaware will require training beyond high school. But, as the News Journal noted in its diversity series, today only 20 percent of African-Americans over 25 years of age in Delaware hold a college degree – a percentage that is about half the state average. For Latino adults, nearly 38 percent do not even have a high school diploma. And, across the state, only three Delaware public high schools exceed the national average for college enrollment, with the remaining thirty-plus falling short.
Well Bill that analogy the assumption is Delaware will be moving from a service based economy to high-tech, life sciences or other non blue collar jobs. Don’t have the data at hand but, I have no doubt unemployment of black children “with high school diplomas” is higher than their white counterparts. Just like the achievement gap, there is an employment gap between whites and blacks with the same qualifications. And no I am not saying don’t waste you time for any student black or white. However, the competition for these world class jobs is fierce. CBS News, “Among the 2,134 workers surveyed, 47 percent of college graduates did not find a first job that was related to their college major. What’s more, 32 percent of college grads said that they had never worked in a field related to their majors.” I have a hunch if broken down by race we’ll see minorities on the short end of the stick. Also, many Votech high school graduates don’t go onto college and go in their respective trades! HOWEVER, there seems to be a trend in Delaware where votech students end up in Co-opt jobs not related to their field. Also, for many votech students if they can’t get into an apprenticeship program which many are limited via the unions, then they are out of luck. The push for college is creating a surplus of college graduates in various fields. Markell didn’t offer a list of “Delaware” employers eager to hire. Also, Markell’s ability to create the promised jobs failed!
These disturbing numbers demonstrate that too many Delawareans – even in the suburbs – are not having their promise realized. As a state, we are not going to be “A Place to Be Somebody” if the educational system is not reformed to provide our children with the skills and knowledge they need to compete.
Well Bill, the Markell visionaries seem to have a cracked crystal ball with enough clarity to see their own direction after the governorship and being good little political puppets. Just as in traditional and charter schools, quality leadership within makes the difference. Sadly we don’t have that within the Delaware Department of Education. Though Greg thinks I am a charter hater, personal I feel the charter school renewal process should be eliminated and replaced with stronger support DE DOE oversight that more effectively keeps the checks and balances in order to reduce the chance of failure.
Thankfully, there are leaders in Delaware who understand the urgency for reform. This past summer, for example, the State Board of Education granted charters to an additional four schools. While new schools are not always the answer, at this point it is important that we welcome schools that have a proven track record of delivering quality education and producing well-rounded students – particularly those schools with a track record of delivering to underserved students from diverse families and communities.
Bill couldn’t you produce some names? 🙂 The state board members are appointed by the governor and are “Dominated” by a DE DOE person better suited in leading Saturday community children’s soccer league. Heff is an aright dude but , he barks louder than he bites.
Among the schools approved to open next year is Freire Charter School Wilmington. For 15 years, Freire has defied statistics and helped unlock the promise of underserved youth in Philadelphia. Approximately 90 percent of Freire’s graduates enroll in college within two years of graduation – a percentage higher than any public high school in the State of Delaware. And, Freire doesn’t cream the brightest students from traditional public schools – we take all kids. In fact, in Philadelphia, most of our students do not enter our school performing on grade level in reading, math, or writing. Surrounded by support, Freire students work hard to catch up and it pays off, with last year’s senior class averaging $59,665 per student in college scholarships.
Bill every paragraph you wrote prior to this one was a waste! One of the first rules of salesmanship is not bashing your competitors. If you can’t sell your good and services on your own merits and proven track record you’re in trouble. I took the time to review Freire and believe me I dug deep to come up with negative dirt! Couldn’t find it. Sure the student discipline contract raised some eyebrows but if someone wants to hang Freire they need more than that. Tell us about your successes not about perceived failures of others.
Freire is coming to Wilmington because of our long ties to the community and our enthusiasm to reproduce what we’ve achieved in Philadelphia. We know we won’t transform Delaware’s education crisis overnight. We also know we cannot do it alone. While Freire’s focus is a college prep liberal arts education, other high quality school choices for students and families are an important component of a strong education system.
And I hope you can communicate these goals without poking your finger in the eye of Wilmington’s slogan and high poverty traditional public schools who can’t select their students and are extremely changed without needs based funding.
For Wilmington – and every community in Delaware – to achieve their full promise, we must require every school be a place where every student can become somebody. Too many students are currently exiting the school system without employable skills, and Delaware’s prosperity is in jeopardy without a commitment to education reform.
Bill Porter is Head of School, Freire Charter School Wilmington.
Bill there you go again focusing on others whereas you need to focus on yourself re: Freire. Highlighting the success of Freire “students” will help “Freire” succeed and to become a premiere public school choice option. As far as that cherry-picking and skimming students it seems to be a must for the survival ability of Delaware charter schools. Delaware DOE is more reactive than proactive. The Rodel clones within lack the capacity to be effective “support organization”. Bill keep you books in order, webpage enriched with data and update information regarding board meeting and budget review meetings. Also, be an charter school innovator and record your board meetings for all the hear to enhance community and parental involvement.
Good luck Bill and I do wish you and Freire the best and thank you for engaging me! My opinions are just that, opinions.