Careful how you poke Wilmington in the eye Freire Charter School Wilmington

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.   


17 responses to “Careful how you poke Wilmington in the eye Freire Charter School Wilmington

  1. Reblogged this on Exceptional Delaware and commented:
    There’s that word vocational again. When was the last time a new regular public school opened in Delaware?
    While Freire may work in Phlladelphia, Wilmington is it’s own city. Since I heard of this school opening next year, I’ve been very curious how their zero tolerance policy will play out in Wilmington. We will find out in ten months if it works or not.


  2. It would be nice if Bill’s words weren’t so hollow. Freire has a zero-tolerance policy. Read the article here.

    We don’t have — nor do we want — that “luxury” at my school. We take and work with all kids as they come in the hopes that they will improve themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kilroysdelaware

      From their website:

      “4) We are a 100% nonviolent school. Safety is our first priority. If a student acts violently – whether in words or in actions- to anyone at school or on the subway OR ANYWHERE – he or she will be expelled. There are no second chances. Our second priority is helping students learn to resolve conflicts peacefully and without violence.”

      It looks like their policy extends beyond the school day and property. “ANYWHERE.

      I was aware of this concern and one would think DE DOE will inject some ground rules on legalities and more importantly keep an eye on this red flag. Charters should be required to provide alternative placement for “disruptive students” rather than dump students back in traditional schools.

      I have good relationship with Bill Porter and even invitations to visit Freire. He could of taken the position of putting on the blinders like Markell and Murphy but rather he reached out to generate dialogue.

      I don’t oppose charter schools but do share in many of the concerns. As you can see my opinions were objective and fair. Bill made a big mistake poking his finger in the eye of Wilmington’s motto and taking the hard dig at traditional schools. He his article should have been a instruction letter to the community and emphasis on what his school is bring and not why! However, Freire is the new kid on the block and needs to score points with Publius and Company! Freire needs to focus on “Freire” not the overall charter school movement in Delaware. Sure be a part of the alliance but it best they don’t help with the attacks. And yes for sure defend themselves from attacks.

      If a Freire student were to publicly bash traditional schools I think that would be unbecoming of Freire’s mission. So when school leadership does it, it undermine their own mission and discipline teachers. UNLESS that’s all bullshit or a scam and they are part of the hardcore takeover of traditional public schools.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “UNLESS that’s all bullshit or a scam and they are part of the hardcore takeover of traditional public schools”.———————-


    John Kowalko


  4. Freire’s policy reminds me of a comment I once heard Lou Holtz say about motivation:

    “It’s easy to motivate a team. Just get rid of all the ones who aren’t motivated.”


  5. There is just no making Kilroy happy. Change happens.


  6. Oh…I get it. Pick and choose your students, and they behave? What a concept. Tell me, seriously, what is this doing to serve the public? If they want to open a private school, have at it. I have no problem a private school picking, and choosing to keep, whomever they wish. But with public funding, a school ought to follow the same expulsion policies that public schools must follow. If the next governor wants educator support, he better move 180 degrees from this nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If your issue is with expulsions, then the DOE or district should look into each expulsion case for appropriateness. If you don’t want to accept a school’s action that is your choice but other people may not want to accept your views either. So leave it to the proper authorities.

      People pick schools. Are you saying that people should not have a right to pick thier school? Assuming so, you already have your way in part — popular charter schools are limited in enrollment and more people apply than those schools are allowed to accept. Which is why there are preferences like siblings (arguably favoring big families), districts and radii (arguably an economic-wealth preference), employees (arguably an issue of nepotism), and specific interest (arguably an issue of relevant match beween school and applicant). If you want to limit enrollment AND leave everything up to the roll of the dice, then aren’t you really trying to have your cake and eat it too? Or do you only favor the preferences which favor you?



    • Pd, the proper authority re: school expulsion practices is the federal OCR. They recently found fault with CSD, which has a much lower rate of suspensions & expulsions than most autonomously administered DE charters. Those have been flying under federal OCR radar simply by virtue of being small, individual “LEAs,” and the feds can’t be everywhere at once ensuring compliance. But that honeymoon will soon be over. John’s view is well aligned with theirs, and various parties are appealing to them to begin paying attention.


    • People can pick any school they want. Let’s just stop pretending a school with Freire’s policies is a public school. It isn’t.


    • Well, pandora, Friere “is” a public school. You’ll just have to get used to it.

      Eve, are you really suggesting that the Feds should run everything in little old Delaware? The same Feds that said CSD was discriminating against African Americans? The same Fed that offered incentives (accepted in DE) for RTTT? Incentives which CSD rejected? Alot of people don’t think the Feds should have the trump card in state affairs. Incentives, yes. Directives, no. As for OCR, Office of Civil Rights, other than the corrective-orders given to CSD what is it to you expect the OCR to do with respect to charter and other choice schools?

      Let’s all try out this new (current) reality: public schools include the distributed-governance site-managed charter model. Some people choose that model for the realization of their tax dollars, so lets give it to them without dogma and whining. Some people choose the old-school traditional model, let them have that too also without dogma and whining. Other people choose magnets, and still others choose vo-techs. Each model should be free to right-size up or down to their public demand. The use of the PUBLIC buildings should be reallocated accordingly. And yes, the traditional model has the compulsory education obligation to take the disaffected who don’t choose … which is why their district boards have the elected power to tax to run their own schools and to privde buildings for all. If and when the charter model (or other non-traditional model) has the majority of enrollees we can revisit the tax authority. Currently, the charter model has to attract people who want to attend it — or the schools will wither and close. Which is why they strive to offer what the people demand.

      Different strategies, all under the public umbrella. Chose what you want from the system, and stand-down from opposing the options you don’t choose. Other people want them. If no one were to want them, they would come to an end naturally. Let’s meet public demand where it is. Choice, differentiation, magnets, charters, traditionals, vo-techs, home schools and (a Kilroy favorite) vouchers. After all, it is OUR money, all of us.



    • I’m “suggestng” that the constitution and laws of the U.S. should apply in little ol’ Delaware. Stay tuned for answers to your other questions.