Delaware Wilmington

Step Up and Invest in the Education of Delaware’s Poorest Students Now

It’s not unusual for powerful institutions to tell poor people that they should accept the crumbs being offered to them — not because these crumbs may or may not help, but because this is the only help available.

That is the undercurrent of this editorial from the NJ, advising that Christina should approve Wilmington schools plan: Editorial   Interestingly. the NJ frames up exactly the Wilmington schools problem:

Christina board member George Evans’ comparison to a building on fire aptly describes how urgent the problem is. In some of the district’s Wilmington schools, the percentage of students proficient in math and reading is in the single digits — that is simply unconscionable.

But even they can’t map out how this MOU addresses this plain problem — that Wilmington students are underperforming their studies.  Because that is the real question that has to be answered — how does this plan move forward increasing student achievement?

Clearly, getting teachers training on trauma-informed practices is an excellent step.  Giving principals some additional autonomy on building operations could help.  Money for smaller class sizes and to compensate teachers for longer hours is basic.

But what is being asked for here, really?  The NJ is asking the Christina Board (and the parents of the kids in Wilmington schools) to accept that the massive help that the children they are responsible for simply won’t materialize.  Even the funding to redo the buildings into k-8 facilities isn’t a cast in stone promise.  But if the Board says yes to this MOU, they are the only group of people being held accountable for anything.  If the Governor cannot get the GA to allocate the building funds, it looks like the Christina Board still has to accomplish this building merger.  Which leaves Christina still holding the bag to the result of years of policy decisions that specifically leaves some kids behind.

There is no solution to this problem that is centered on “opportunity grants” (which only dribbles back to schools money the State took away for FY18) or on building consolidation.  From where I sit, if the Governor steps up and says he wants to help, it is up to the school board to hold him accountable for help that moves to real and substantial progress in student learning.  From where I sit, no one should be telling the parents or teachers of these children that they should settle for help that clearly won’t get far in resolving the systemic problems.  And — from where I sit — no one should tell parents and children in these schools that they simply should not expect better from the one place they *should* get better and focused help.

I’d bet that there is no one in the “settle for what you can get” crowd who would take that answer if the education of their children was at stake.  Most of the children in these schools don’t have the benefit of better choices for a variety of reasons.  Not being able to better serve the State’s children in poverty colors the school systems’ reputation everywhere.  Not being able to invest in better outcomes for high poverty students in Wilmington is always going to be a millstone.  Because people will move into (or stay) in places where they can educate their kids.

The Governor was ready to throw a ton of money that we do not have at Amazon to get them to move here.  Let’s stop asking poor children to live with paultry investments that we would never ask the businesses we are trying to move here to take.

58 comments on “Step Up and Invest in the Education of Delaware’s Poorest Students Now

  1. Well said!

  2. “Let’s stop asking poor children to live with paultry (paltry) investments that we would never ask the businesses we are trying to move here to take.”

    Exactly. We have been funding Bloom Energy and it should stop. The money Delaware received from Bloom for not meeting it’s higher goals, should go directly to funding schools! THIS has got to stop!!!

  3. Dustyn Thompson

    How can i do a thousand likes? Where is the thousand likes button?

  4. John Young

    Tuesday, February 13th, the Christina School Board meets in regular session. One of our agenda items that evening will be the latest version of the Wilmington schools Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This item is getting more attention as time passes, including a recent recommendation from the paper’s editors to vote “yes”. While my own vote is not yet formulated, the calculation of what is the “right thing to do” is far more complicated than the editorial penned on February 8th suggested.

    First, it will cause disruption and not the small kind. Students will be moved from Stubbs, Pulaksi, and Elbert-Palmer elementary schools into two 1-8 schools. Kindergarten will now be at what will be called a Dual-Generation Center located at Stubbs. The 1-8 schools will mix volatile neighborhoods and require significant building modifications to both Bayard and Bancroft. This will be a major disruption, one that could easily outweigh the benefits. Yet we are urged us to just vote “yes”.

    The editorial next points us to the $15 million dollars from the state for our buildings. Two points: it’s been requested by the Governor but will not be approved prior to our vote and every $0.80 spent must be met with $0.20 of Christina School District money that we simply do not have. School Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to our taxpayers and this would require a capital taxation referendum in an increasingly toxic environment for taxation referendums statewide. Yet we are urged to just vote “yes”.

    The editorial continues by confirming that incremental improvement is the most likely outcome when revolution is what’s needed for our students yet rather than press the state for that commitment, we are urged to just vote “yes” and abandon our elected responsibility to be analytical and contemplative in the interest of deploying solutions that we know will work.

    Finally, we are reminded tritely that perfect ought to not be the enemy of good when an insufficient case for good has been made and that students have gone far too long in this current condition with no detailed discussion of the myriad causal factors, some of which have absolutely included failed offers of what this editorial called “help”. Yet again, though, we are urged to just vote “yes”.

    As I stated in response to Mr. Evans’ declaration of the building being on fire: we are indeed the first responders in his analogy and it is our job to make sure the fire extinguishers are not filled with kerosene but rather the correct ingredients to douse the flames to permit recovery and rebuilding to occur. We are not provided the luxury of just voting “yes”, we are elected to do our best for students who have no second pass through our system of schools, and get it right, not just right now. I urge all to please come out and share your thoughts in public comment at our meeting Tuesday night before our vote.

    John M. Young


  5. You would have a point if you were not defending one of the most racisit and poorly run school districts in Delaware, which has never done anything to serve kids of color without a judge forcing them to. You’re drinking the suburban Democrat Kool aide which masks itself as wanting the “right” plan for these kids, but offers few solutions other than the status quo or full funding from the state for any reforms (which the legislature would never support). The idea that the state should just send more money to that school district is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and shows no understanding of history or current practices. They make comments about how these reforms are not about the kids, but about adults. And that there isn’t enough going into classrooms… As though what happens in the classroom is the sole problem. If you don’t understand how supporting families and communities impacts these kids, you shouldn’t be involved in anything associated with Wilmington education. Christina needs to get out of the city. And take the rest of the suburban democrats who kill Wilmington reform in the shaddows with you. We don’t want them here, and let’s be real, they don’t care about our kids… Never have and never will.

    • I say you… but that was really directed at John Young. Not you Cassandra

    • cassandram

      Both John’s and Bane’s comments reinforce the idea that the fix to Wilmington schools is a task on the order of putting a man on the moon. It is a very big lift and there has not been any real (that I can tell) discussion among the State, Christina and other key stakeholders to come up with a plan that ambitious. These schools did not happen overnight and fixing them won’t happen fast, either. Just more money is not the answer. But funds focused on bettering the educational experience of kids in poverty PLUS addressing some of the long term structural issues is part of the solution. As both Bane and Pandora point out, not the least of the problem is it’s politics — Wilmington ed reform is not a priority for anyone besides Wilmington and the system seems geared to listen to the suburban voices who see Wilmington kids as a thing to run away from and investments in Wilmington as a disinvestment in their own kids. WEIC would have been a great place to start having this conversation, especially once it was asked to scale up to address the education of children in poverty all over the state.

  6. John Young, get out of Wilmington.

    “First, it will cause disruption and not the small kind. Students will be moved from Stubbs, Pulaksi, and Elbert-Palmer elementary schools into two 1-8 schools”

    You think parents care about this disruption? We Christina Schools with mold and rat droppings. Disrupt away.

    “The editorial next points us to the $15 million dollars from the state for our buildings”

    The Governor has recommended the state’s share from the legislature. Christina should go to referendum and ask the public for the 20% match to make these improvments. But you won’t because ” you’re a coward and you don’t want to burn political capital for poor black kids if you don’t have to. Be honest with yourself.

  7. John Young

    Bane, you’d maybe have a point if I hadn’t sat at at public town hall on November 29th and and watched city parents lambaste the governor for 90 minutes straight regarding this disruption. Or if you understood how school finance worked. Or if you had paid attention to the myriad of state driven interventions and their resultant failures. Things you don’t have to do when you just call a stranger racist.

  8. John Young

    Also, I am not just trying to couch my disapproval around some obstinate notion of it being “right”, but if it isn’t right and we do it anyway knowing that more harm may come to Wilmington children if we do? How’s that not racist? I have been pushing for adequate resources to fund interventions needed. I am the one who pushed to make sure that the WELLNESS CENTERS, designed to provide the types of community and family supports YOU cite ARE NOT DONE IN 2 but get done in YEAR ONE. You’d know this if you bothered to come to meetings or listen to audio. I may be a bunch of things but two of them ain’t racist or Captain Easystance

    • Pretty sure I never called you racist. You just happen to sit on a board of an historically racist school district of which I have yet to see serious reforms emerge unless forced. A district that isn’t really committed to risk political capital for anything other than “advocating” that someone else pay for and create these reforms. I know enough tabout school finance to know that the board has more authority than an advocate.

      I know enough about school finance to know that the board hasn’t made the case to citizens as to how to best improve these school nor pushed to raise the money for these reforms unless forced.

      The previous commenters are correct. The suburban areas are the real hurdle to city reform…. Not the “right” choice. But nobody on the board is willing to go there and make the case for more funding for these schools. It’s easier to just get it from the state.

      • John Young

        Again, you’ve got the wrong person. I asked for $750k be directed to Wilmington Schools in 2011. I was voted down 5-2. I have made the case for more funding including full execution of board policy 5.2 literally at our 1.25.18 board meeting which would provide more teachers and money for each city school. Listen to the audio or come to the meetings, they’re public

      • It’s not just that it’s “easier to get it from the state.” It’s that the state’s idiotic funding method stole far more than that for its charter schools — and they are state-chartered. The state taketh away, the state must give.

  9. SussexWatcher

    “Not being able to better serve the State’s children in poverty colors the school systems’ reputation everywhere. Not being able to invest in better outcomes for high poverty students in Wilmington is always going to be a millstone.“

    Is the focus on children in poverty? If that’s the case, Christina should not be the priority. Woodbridge, Seaford and Laurel all have higher percentages of children living in poverty (23%, 23%, and 20%) than does Christina (15%). More than 70% of 3rd-graders in Laurel failed the ELA proficiency tests, the highest in the state. Woodbridge and Laurel both beat Christina on 3rd-grade math failures. These are all shit-tastic schools.

    (Yes, I know that the focus with these discussions is on the part of Christina that covers Wilmington, but I don’t have the breakout numbers for that.)

    I understand that Wilmington is the focus because it’s the biggest city and has been near-criminally neglected and mistreated for decades. But let’s please not ignore the fact that there are plenty of children, many of them black and Hispanic and Haitian, living in poverty attending crappy schools in southern Delaware who aren’t getting this same level of attention from anyone. Why is Carney not strong-arming them?

    • Christina becomes the priority because our governors keep making it a priority. It’s the squeaky wheel syndrome, and the Newark community is very loud. Most (not all) want those kids out of their suburban schools.

      The reason the attention lands on Christina (and not on Laurel, Woodbridge or Seaford) is because you have a vocal, affluent Newark community (Ugh. #NotAllNewarkResidents) who wants these city children out of their schools. That’s actually their education plan for improving their schools (and property values).

      It isn’t only Newark, Red Clay residents lost their minds when Lancaster Apartments were included in the Cooke Elementary feeder pattern.

      And if the city was its own district, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation – just like we aren’t having it about Laurel, Woodbridge or Seaford. Merge all those lower Delaware districts into one, and watch what happens (Sussex Tech and Sussex Academy give you a taste of what would come). This is a classic NIMBY situation – exasperated by the Neighborhood Schools Act. That’s the main focus when it comes to NCC suburban and city schools. In my jaded opinion, this isn’t about educating children in high needs schools, it’s about bending to the will of more affluent suburban communities. Oh, it also plays nicely into the charterization/privatization of city schools.

      tl;dr: Merge lower income lower Delaware school districts together with more affluent areas and the same thing will happen.

    • cassandram

      Pandora is correct here, but also let’s not forget that WEIC was asked to scale up their suggestions to address children in poverty from Wilmington to statewide. That effort is put on the shelf as too expensive. And while I don’t doubt that the equitable funding suggested by this plan would cost money, I suspect the larger cost was the political capital to fight to upgrade the educational experience of kids in poverty.

  10. John Young

    Section (6):

    (6) Contract with any school district, or any other public school or private nonsectarian, nonreligious entity also empowered to enter into contracts, for any and all real property, equipment, goods, supplies and services; provided, that a school district must make unused buildings or space (defined as space no longer needed, permanently or temporarily, for non-charter school purposes) buildings or space in buildings available to a charter school, and shall bargain in good faith over the cost of rent, services and maintenance related to such space ; provided further, that a charter school may, with the approval of the Secretary and the State Board for the sole purpose of determining compliance with this proviso, contract with a sectarian or religious college or university incorporated in the State and operating a program or programs for teacher education within the State empowered to enter into contracts for such property and services, so long as the property contracted for is used in a nonreligious and nonsectarian manner and the services contracted for are provided in a nonreligious and nonsectarian manner and are of a nonreligious and nonsectarian type. A charter school’s continued use of school district space shall be subject to review at least on a 5-year basis, and may be terminated by the district with 1 year’s notice, if the district’s non-charter school capacity requirements warrant. Charter schools shall have preference over state agencies for purposes of § 1057(b) of this title except that nothing in this section shall require the displacement of any tenant either during the term of its current lease or any renewal thereof;

    • So would you say this means that Christina buildings proposed for alternate uses under the MOU couldn’t be?

      • I’m guessing he’s pointing out how those “unused” schools could go charter, which was the plan for Priority schools, too!

  11. John Young

    More pointing out that that the state is attempting you countersign an mou and enjoin s district in an instrument that may be illegal. This
    is what happens when confronted with arbitrary deadlines, you catch stuff late, like this.

  12. John Young

    If we close two buildings and charters fill them and 500 students return to those schools that will decimate the other two schools that were created they will then be forced to consolidate and or close which could open up those buildings the possible charterization. Is this the actual plan? Don’t know. Do I need to know before voting? I think I should be asking the question…

  13. So now this is about preventing charter schools. Smh… So the district can’t recognize unused space or they will open the door for a charter school. Are you kidding me? Just get Christina out of the city already.

    • “Just get Christina out of the city already.”

      Yes, the racist whites in Newark deserve this reward for their racist behavior over the past 40 years. Thanks for playing.

  14. If you went with the plan as written, they already have described uses for those buildings. Therefore, the building would not be considered as “unused” because each would have a purpose. This is an ideological point that is being used to slow progress.

    • Only if the money is supplied for those buildings, Bane. That’s what keeps tripping me up – the money is not guaranteed.

    • Don’t worry. Bane’s got the thoughts & prayers funding train rolling in any second now.

  15. 2015 Total Public School Expenditures, Spending Per Student By State Delaware is ranked 12th highest in the country at $14,120. Why? What can we do to reduce those expenditures and at the same time, provide quality public education for all??

    PER CAPITA STATE GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES FOR ALL EDUCATION ($) Delaware ranked 3rd in 2013 & 2014. )


    The average is $11,841 per student, Delaware is +33%

    • I can’t believe this is what you took away from that article. Did you even read it?

      • Yes, I did. If they weren’t spending so much on every child, there would be more to focus on students that needed more attention, Pandora!

        • We’ve been over this before. These cost per student numbers are averages.

          “If they weren’t spending so much on every child, there would be more to focus on students that needed more attention,”

          How do you address this without addressing property taxes? The article makes this point crystal clear.

          Know what? How about you show us your work. What are you cutting? By how much? How would you designate funding? Will you be cutting funds at affluent schools and giving that money to high needs schools? What exactly would that entail? Or are you proposing to make cuts across the board. Again, what exactly are you cutting? You need to flesh this out for me, in detail. Otherwise, all you’re saying is, “We spend too much!”

          • Typical, more property taxes, that is all you have and that is your goto! You are going to push more people out of this state! What classifies an affluent school? Private schools, I don’t think so!

            Other than and increase in taxes, What are you proposing??

            • If you read the article, you’d know what I was referencing. I even mentioned the article. No where did I call on raising property taxes, but I guess that’s all you got.

              Come on, anono, show your work. You do have work, don’t ya? You aren’t just shouting, “We spend too much!” are you?

              I have written extensively on this topic. Equitable funding. That is, and always has been, my proposal. I have absolutely no idea what your proposals are. Care to share?

              • anono just wants all the children with high needs plus those attending Brennan and Sterck to be booted out of the State’s education system that way the ‘average’ cost per pupil is more to his/her liking.

            • So, anono… you won’t be showing your work?

        • In this thread, Anono doesn’t know what averages are.

    • Anono, Why are you asking a blog about education costs? Shouldn’t you, I don’t know, show up at a School District and ask? or DSEA? Or any local EA? Or DDOE? Though good luck getting any useful info out of that last one though.

      It’s too hard to actually do the work to answer your own questions. Much easier to keyboard warrior away and whine about everyone else not doing it for you.

    • Delaware’s state government pays more than 50%, and up to 80%, of district costs. This is highly unusual in this country. Of course, Anono is too stupid to do the math, but there you are.

      Why you put up with his daily stupidity is anybody’s guess. Is it to make everyone else who comments look smart by comparison?

      • As usual, make personal attacks. If I could take a quote from Amy L Wax, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School; “Of course one has the right to hurl labels like “racist,” “sexist,” and “xenophobic” without good reason-but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Hurling such labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify, or educate. Indeed, it undermines these goals by discouraging or stifling dissent.”

        • You’re a motherfucking moron. Go the fuck away. I call you a moron because you amply demonstrate it every time you post. People are not here to educate you, you lazy bastard.

  16. Christina needs to get their act together. It’s not just Stubbs, Pulaski and Palmer. Nearly all of the district’s schools are underutilized. They have been told this repeatedly over the last decade but have wasted their efforts fighting charter schools and hiring overpaid consultants to tell them what everyone already knows.

    The geographic configuration of the district is ridiculous. Continuing to bus students up and down I-95 every day is absurd. With the money that has been wasted on transportation over three decades we probably could have built a showplace high school in Wilmington.

    Personally I favor consolidating each county into a district and then leveling tax revenue across the county. There should be enough balance of wealthy and poor areas in each county to make this work. Unfortunately with the entrenched bureaucracy of all the districts and the political power of the teacher’s union this will never happen. Traditional public schools will continue to decline as residents will vote with their feet by going to charters, or moving to PA, MD, or NJ. Liberals will cry racism as they do about everything and the downward spiral will continue.

    • Spoken like someone who doesn’t know as much as they should know before commenting on this. I do agree the geographic configuration is absurd. You can talk to the Superior Court of Delaware about that though. Please do. And get some friends to join you please.

      The county wide option has been thrown down before. It’s even been done before in Delaware’s history, twice. It failed both times. Third time’s the charm, amirite?

      What exactly do you mean “leveling” tax revenue? Because as you just wrote it, it’s meaningless drivel. Kinda like the last 3 sentences of your comment.

      • “Spoken like someone who doesn’t know as much as they should know before commenting on this.”

        That’s the case with every subject he has ever commented on.

      • By leveling I mean that essentially all property tax revenues are put into a pot and then divided equally among the districts. Some adjustments for districts that have high percentages of true special needs students.

        You seem like a pretty bright guy, for a liberal. How would you go about resolving the issues with Christina School District?

        • Why do conservative men think that the solution to every problem is something they can think up in a few hours? I don’t know enough to solve this. People who know a lot more than me don’t know enough to solve this, so people like you, who know even less, certainly aren’t going to solve this.

          What you call “leveling” is known as “equalization.” Jesus, look it up.

          You can chip in your biased opinions, but you’re not going to solve this problem that way. All that does is show the people tasked with solving the problem that intractable citizens who don’t understand the problem will resist whatever they come up with.

          The main reason the issues in CSD can’t be solved is because there is no agreement among the stakeholders about what those issues even are.

          Why don’t you try shutting up and learning something for a change?

          • Wait – who is resisting the plan to try and resolve Christina issues by closing schools? Not me. That would be you.

            What’s your plan, Alby? Force all the charters to close? Enlighten me.

            • Wait – merging these schools and re-purposing the empty buildings (resource centers) has never been put forth as a cost savings method. In fact, the plan put forth for all these schools will cost a LOT of money. So, I’m not sure what plan you’re supporting.

      • I think that the unified district only lasted about a year or two. Not really a fair trial, a product of a few ivory tower judges.

        And there were a few other disruptions at the time, like the 9-3 plan and a stream of buses going up and down I-95. I was there.

        Not really a fair trial, do you agree?

        • Brian Ess, August 2015:

          “But the hard truth of the matter is that CSD continues to hemorrhage students and continues to operate the same number of buildings. Some big, drastic changes are in order.”


          • He means because the state has undermined the district by approving so many charter schools.

            • You mean the government is actually doing what the people want it to do? What a novel concept.

  17. Look at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, they run everything out of one office! It’s working.

  18. Yes, if you consider widespread molestation the goal.

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