Most of us can agree, it’s time for change re: public education in the city of Wilmington.
Currently Wilmington Delaware has a population of 71,292. (2012 census.) divided by four traditional public school district, 9 charter schools and one votech school.
Delaware has a Choice school law where students can chose their school. However, the schools must have open seats and student’s parents are required to transport their children to and from a bus-stop within the school of choice or to the school directly.
Delaware has a charter school law in which the Delaware Department of Education and / or local school school districts are permitted to approval charter schools. DE DOE has a complex charter school framework that must be follow before any charter school application can be approved whereas local school districts can approve charter school application more freely following basic charter school laws.
Because of a federal court order re: desegregation, in 1976 all public schools in New Castle including school in the city of Wilmington were order to combined into New Castle County School District . In 1981 The New Castle County School District was broken into to five school district. Then in 1994 the federal court order many called “force busing” ended. In comes the the Choice school law then Charter school law in 1995 followed by the Neighborhood Schools Act in 2001.
So what the hell happen to public education in the city of Wilmington? School Choice, Charter, Magnet Schools and the Neighborhood Schools Act! Throw in Votech and we have an amazing menu of school choices.
Let’s start with charter schools. The Delaware charter school law allow charter schools to use admission preference;
(3) Students enrolling in a new (nonconverted) charter school may be given preference under the following circumstances as long as the school has described its preferences in the school’s charter:
a. Students residing within a 5-mile radius of the school;
b. Students residing within the regular school district in which the school is located;
c. Students who have a specific interest in the school’s teaching methods, philosophy, or educational focus;
d. Students who are at risk of academic failure;
e. Children of persons employed on a permanent basis for at least 30.0 hours per week during the school year by the charter school.
Charter schools are required to follow these admission preferences but not in any order. The public “perception” is, students who live in the school district the charter school is located get’s first preference followed by the 5 mile radius. That’s not the case! The Specific Interest (c.) can be the first requirement! I am not going to get into the charter school admission argument. However, in my opinion, charter schools should be open to all students based on first come with an open lottery system when more applications were take than seats available controlled by a non-bias party. And that applies to magnet schools!
As far as charter schools designed to assist at-risk of academic failure I feel this is a dangerous social experiment and fuels de fact segregation.
It’s common knowledge supported by “data” that the high at-risk groups are African-American and Hispanic particularly those classified high poverty.
In comes the city of Wilmington issue! We cannot deny Wilmington Delaware has the highest concentration of poverty therefore the highest concentration of at-risk students.
Red Clay and Christina School District both have three designated “priority schools” and the notion Red Clay could better serve Christina’s priority school students is absurd! Furthermore, folding Christina School District or parts of it into Red Clay School District is a fools journey. The core complaint in regards to Wilmington is, the students of greatest needs are undeserved. If Red Clay were to take over Christina’s priority schools, the building stands and the children remain! What changes? New leadership and teachers? Yep, more money to help this new world-class education initiative attack on poverty! It will take years to bring about all these changes in playing musical chairs moving school district boundaries and at the end of the day, it comes down to needs-based funding and smaller class sizes.
Wilmington’s schools have the highest concentration of poverty in the state and action must be taken “now” to add more teaching units / paraprofessionals. We don’t need to change the funding structure of all Delaware public schools, just the schools with the great percentage of poverty and my opinion is, start with schools with poverty levels of 50% and greater. Also, end the class size cap wavier now and at best 50/50 cost between the state and local $$ share!
Choice schools; provide preferential school transportation to and from the Choice schools for those students living in the city of Wilmington going to suburban schools. As for Red Clay’s high school and middle school students living in the city of Wilmington whereas there are “no” Red Clay middle or high schools! Those students get first choice over all in-district suburban Red Clay students and siblings. Folks, force busing white parents cried about when their children were “forced” to Wilmington School still exists for Wilmington’s children. Allowing Red Clay School District’s hands on any more city children would be a civil rights violation in the moral sense.
I agree 100% the public schools located in Wilmington Delaware divided four school districts and charter schools leaves fragmented oversight, community voice and more importantly parental involvement. Those of you who knew William Hicks Anderson knows he unified parents particularly Title 1 parents which lead to Title 1 Section 1118. Section 1118 was kicked aside during the formation of Race to The Top, Common Core Standards and now The Smarter Balanced Assessment. Parents were indoctrinated after the fact and yes indeed even our own Delaware PTA played a roll. Rather than taking a stand that parents particularly Title 1 parents given federal laws requiring their participation in the design and review of Title 1 programs were not involved, they took the money to promote wall street laced education reforms. All this push about testing opt-out and wrongheaded NCLB consequences such as priority schools missed the mark. The core component of NCLB is Title 1 and without Title 1 , NCLB would imploded and be no more. The original intent of ESEA aka NCLB was to address the achievement disparities impacting at-risk children. The entire education reform movement going back the desegregation of public schools was meant to raise the bottom aka the academic needs of at-risk children. The United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan proclaims, “education is the most important civil rights issue of this generation” stands-by and supports closing charter schools serving the most neediest students. He sees this as having courage to what is right for children. I disagree and feel civil rights is the most important issues of this generation, yesterday’s generation and “tomorrow’s” generation. The reality is for those students in charter schools ordered closed because of not meeting academic standards baseline set by a standardize test that is allowed to change at-will or via a political agenda adopted by a governor is a civil rights violation. Think about it, “this generation” of school students have been subjected to the forms of state standardized testing, DSTP, DCAS and now The Smarter Balanced Assessment and let’s not forget the piloting years in-between where many students were required to take both in one year. Also, there is the adjustment to cut scores and curriculum. Sadly to say. our children are being used as pawns in a political chess game involving politicians, Wall Street and yes unions. Delaware Rep Jaques just doesn’t get it.
Delaware State legislators need to show the courage and amend the the class size cap law before the end of this session June 30th. Strikeout the wavier provisions and to take effect school year 2015-2016. And, make funding of the additional teachers 50% state and 50% local share.
Folks and pay attention Rep. Jaques, Governor Markel will be out of office come January 2017 and mark my words, public education in Delaware will implode into a vacuum and left behind will be the wrong-headed education policies of Governor Jack Markell. The president will also out of office and the odds are so will Arne Duncan. The next batch of political fools will have a new save the world education agenda!