This is a Guest Post from Christina School District Board Member John Young:
So, here we are again at the precipice of another State of Delaware/Governor and Christina School district intersection. The tone is different this time, thus far, but the theme is the same: the state, after deploying a plethora of failed interventions in the last 9 years (read Race to the Top, Partnership Zone, Focus Schools, Priority Schools, PLCs, Data Coaches, Teacher-Leader Effectiveness Unit at DDOE, Delaware Turnaround Unit, Delaware Talen Co-Operative, DSTP, DCAS, Smarter Balanced, etc), now rises up and points at Christina to label and shame us as having failing, terrible schools that must be dealt with… again.
Here’s the rub: we agree that something must be done, but we must not be cowed into pretending that the “why we need it” is entirely born of self-inflicted wounds. In that context, we (the partners: DDOE, CEA, CSD, and the Board as an approval body) set off to develop an intervention plan with multiple facets, in good faith, to ameliorate the educational, social, emotional, and health conditions in our Wilmington schools. The plan is long on aspirational goals and contains some good prescriptions that may be genuinely transformative. Unfortunately, it’s short on the one thing it needs most: funding.
The big ideas are being met with tepid commitments, and monetary constructs (such as the establishment of a philanthropic fund) that while earnest, are simply unreliable and unsustainable at best, and dramatically insufficient at worst. Without proper funding, we are doomed to repeat the failures that have led us here and we will have done nothing in my estimation. Doing this plan wrong is NOT better than doing nothing at all… because along with the effort to make the underfunded plan work, massive disruptions will occur in schools, in neighborhoods, in the city, and TO our children. Disruptive and disrupted learning environments are not good learning environments. I was elected, in a non-partisan election, to a position that pays nothing, to serve children, taxpayers, and their best interests. I do not work for Governor Carney. He works for me.
Tuesday night, we will likely be faced with the state’s counter-proposal to our approved draft MOU. I expect it to be short on funds and even shorter on time. I hope I’m wrong; however, if I’m not I look forward to making the case that Christina is choosing the right path on this intervention. One of deliberate, research based evidence which requires adequate time and resources to do correctly. The children of Wilmington are counting on us to do it right, not fast.
I hope Governor Carney does not ruin the goodwill between our board and his office by insisting, like his predecessor, on a time sensitive win for a photo-op, but rather for a thoughtful and frankly refreshing partnership focused on children.