WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Letter from Wilmington's Mayor Williams & NCC Executive Gordon: Reviving the debate over public schools

While I was gone for a few days (Chicago area, where it was just as cold & windy as here; still saw snow in the higher elevations of Maryland & West Virginia, plus in lower terrain in Indiana where that monster storm struck a week ago!), I see Mayor Williams and County Executive Gordon collaborated on a letter about the high (minority) drop-out rate from our public high schools; one-way busing from city to suburbs; and related issues.

(Coincidentally, in Chicago, the big story: Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed closings of 54 public schools, triggering massive protests. With the Chicago school district facing a 1-Billion-dollar shortfall and underutilized schools in the face of shrinking student population, the mayor insists the closings are absolutely necessary. '60' activist Bill Ayers - remember that name? - calls Emanuel a "right-wing troglodyte"! It's worth noting the future White House chief-of-staff spent his own teen-aged years in the North Shore suburb of Wilmette - attending one of the most elite suburban public high schools, New Trier West!)

I recall - when interviewing the Wilmington mayoral candidates - all seemed to favor a review of circumstances which have made Wilmington one of the few cities of its size in the United States (if not the only city) without a general admissions, public high school of its own.

As noted repeatedly on this blog, with its pizza-wedge, city/county districts, the Wilmington metropolitan area is unique. Special charter schools have only complicated the picture. And no discussion can be complete without noting the disproportionate number of religious & private schools in northern Delaware, which siphon students from financially better-off families, the very students who tend to score better on standardized exams.

Check out the letter from Williams and Gordon, plus some of the analysis and reaction, from the DELAWARE LIBERAL blog---


Posted at 7:26am on April 4, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 7:51am

Welcome back, Mr. Loudell!

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Apr 4, 2013 8:19am
Welcome back Allan.

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 4:28pm
Let me extend my welcome.... As an aside, our neighbor to the north is closing inner-city schools as well. A recent study of the numbers showed that the same number of students are in Philadelphia schools as there were in 2004. However some schools are being run at two-thirds capacity, having lost 33% of their students to charter schools.. The charter schools siphoned those students off along with their funding, and now inner-city schools are having to consolidate for lack of money.

The scores of the charter schools are no much better than the scores of public schools. In fact, many are worse, much worse. A study recently showed that Philadelphia's children - before charter schools moved in - had much better scores across the whole district than they do now.....

Private schools are one option. But using public money to pay private schools instead of public schools, thereby dooming public schools to spiral downward, is morally wrong.

Charter schools segregate inner-city students into an education that is separate but totally unequal....

I have to applaud these two for bringing it to the public.

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 12:19am
Here is where we need to go...

Funding for Wilmington Schools needs a creative conduit. We have a Wilmington wage tax. Why not add a business tax for every corporation incorporated in Delaware just to subsidize Wilmington's schools?

To be honest, I have not seen how much corporations pay our largest city. But whereas property taxes are our personal residents' source of providing income to schools, why not tax the corporate-owned land within the city limits of Wilmington with an similar assessment? Property School Tax?

Naysayers will grumble jobs will leave. But most businesses would love to be part of something great, and if this income could produce enough to fund a Wilmington School District, then that is where we ought to go....

All of us on this blog had neighborhood schools with which we identified... Wilmington residents don't have that at all. That is a shame.

Anything proposed other than funding is just a moot point.... We have to get funding for a Wilmington District first or we are better off with the status-quo. At least the inner-city children currently are being given an "opportunity" to try to get out of their hole. In truth, what they have is a long shot. Messing with that and giving them no shot is something we have to avoid.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Apr 5, 2013 9:01am
Kavips: There isn't a Wilmington School District; the city is part of the pizza-pie district system that was forced on NCC back in 1978. The city kids get the same opportunity and go literally to the same schools the suburban kids go to. Have the same teachers, textbooks, etc., etc.

However, that doesn't mean a Wilmington District shouldn't be reformed and designed to better meet the needs of those students who, after all the many millions of dollars, hassle, busing kids all over the county, etc., hasn't made much of a difference in inner-city kids' scholastic scores than was the case prior to 1978.

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 9:23am
All Delaware NCC public middle/high schools are terrible...it's not just those in Wilmington.

And, yes this naysayer will stand by the opinion that businesses will leave the city of Wilmington if even higher taxation takes place. Wouldn't it be better to listen to input from businesses concerning what they want from future employeees and apply this information to the classrooms? Rather than forcing businesses to pay higher taxes, let them use tax-deductible contributions to supply the tools these kids need to get good jobs....computers, software, and other tools specific to jobs in Delaware that will give Wilmington children an advantage when looking for a job in a few years at a company located in Delaware.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Apr 5, 2013 3:18pm
EarlGrey and Kavips: I believe a larger question needs to be answered. Many places around the nation have inner-city districts that have failed. We here in the Wilmington Metro were forced to give the inner-city kids the exact same opportunities as their suburban peers. Interestingly, the inner-city kids have NOT done better, so that begs the question, WHY? There's another reason, we need to address that, NOT throw more money after our failed public school system. Yes I say failed, because the quality of the education is nothing close to what it used to be, for white or minority students. But even with that, the white kids still do better than the minority kids in the same class room, having the same teachers, using the same new books, in the same school, riding the same buses, etc., etc. So it's NOT the lack of those things, its something else.

Until we, as a society figure out the answer to that question, we'll never close the gap between inner-city minority kids and suburban white kids in terms of education.

A few observations: [1] It appears that far more minority kids live in single-parent homes with no sign of the father being involved in those kids' lives at all. Suburban single-parent families more often than not do have the father involved in the kids' lives.
[2] There seems to be better discipline and respect for authority in suburban homes than in inner-city homes.
[3] Suburban parents probably are better educated than inner-city parents so the suburban parents are better equipped to give help to their kids when doing homework.

You get the idea.

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 2:24am
Sorry Mike, I didn't mean to imply I didn't know about the four districts carving up Wilmington. Sorry if that was unclear, but I pretty well assumed that was common knowledge so I didn't go into detail. Instead, I was referring to the letter, whose prime point was heading towards the formation of a Wilmington Districts.

I see Earl Gray jumped on the naysayers bandwagon. It is still without a horse to pull it btw. Whether the corporate investment is in the form of tax, or in the form of a cash grant instead of tax, matters little.

There is no reason why inner city children can’t learn as well as suburban whites, once you factor out the environmental problems inner cities impose which are the real causes of what set this group behind…. Brains are brains and have no connection whatsoever to melanin.

According to the letter it is the lack of a good education that is making the cities problems, but conversely, it is the cities problems that are creating the lack of education....

In this case, it appears the correct action would be to tackle the city's problems first, then send resources secondly towards education....

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