Carney on Tuesday told the commission that with a projected $350 million budget deficit, putting aside money for low-income students and English language learners was neither economically nor politically feasible. He spoke instead of “opportunity grants” for schools and restructuring Title I funding to better help students with special educational needs, promising he and his staff would come up with a plan that would help improve educational outcomes in Delaware.
It’s the politics of money. Carney, of course, could raise taxes, but all signs point to that not happening. Especially due to who these taxes would benefit – mostly poor, mostly black/brown children. Because, let’s face it, when people think of WEIC they think of city kids – even though “”It’s worth noting that 50 percent of Delaware public school students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, a long-held low-income standard for children and their families,” Tony Allen added. That’s far more than city children.
So yeah, it’s politics – driven by a state that has allowed its schools to re-segregate along racial and socioeconomic lines. A state that has allowed public education to create winners and losers. Correcting what the state and school districts allowed to happen is going to cost money to fix. Make no mistake, this problem was no accident. It. Was. Deliberate. The Neighborhood Schools Act, Charters, Magnets, Choice all were designed to lead to this outcome. If you didn’t see this happening, you were willfully blind.
It’s hardly surprising that asking taxpayers in gerrymandered affluent public schools to help pay for schools they made sure they’d never step foot in, or to help the neediest children, would be a deal breaker. That’s the politics. There is nothing to be gained politically by asking the haves to help the have nots. There is only punishment at the voting booth.
You’d think everyone would see the benefits to equitable funding. Better schools lead to a better economy and less crime – two things everyone agrees needs to be addressed. But talk is cheap.
And don’t even get me started on Carney and his staff will come up with another plan. Are you kidding me? A well-researched plan already exists. Tossing it on the trash heap to reinvent the wheel is nothing but a stall tactic. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows what’s needed. What’s missing is the political backbone to do what’s right. Carney saying we need another plan is a slap in the face to the WEIC committee who put in hundreds (thousands?) of hours studying and working on this issue. But scraping WEIC’s work was always the way this was going to end. Yeah, I’m that cynical.
If we rule out equitable funding then what would this “other plan” address? It wouldn’t be smaller class sizes, more educational resources, more teachers, more psychologists, etc. because all of those things cost money. So, give me an idea of what the Governor’s new plan would include. Uniforms? Not kidding. If money is off the table, then what exactly will this new plan consist of?
And it’s no secret that high needs schools need more. So, if you want a new plan may I suggest starting with these charts. The blue line is percentage of poverty at the school. Orange – ELA scores. Grey – Math scores:
And here’s one for Charter Schools:
That’s the reality. Those charts show exactly what’s going on. Poverty impacts education. It requires more. Politically that’s a losing proposition. I get that. I don’t respect that mindset, but I get it. Doing what’s right will take courage. And if our elected officials don’t address equitable funding then they should stop with all the talk about improving the economy and reducing crime, because a better economy and reduced crime won’t happen unless we help these children – but I guess we can’t since it’s not politically feasible. Whatever “politically feasible” means.