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.