Let the games begin! Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 148 into law today at the Hockessin Colored School. Joined by city and state leaders, these articles of legislation will allow for the creation of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) and the redistricting of Wilmington district lines by the State Board of Education. Any plans the State Board comes up with will be subject to approval by the 148th General Assembly.
Delawareonline, in an article written by their education reporter Matthew Albright, published the news and a video earlier today. Albright said WEIC will be chaired by Tony Allen, the Bank of America executive who also chaired the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC), and will have assistant chairs consisting of Kenny Rivera, the President of the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education and Elizabeth Lockman, a parent advocate who also served on WEAC.
The plan will move the City of Wilmington schools out of the Christina School District into the hands of Red Clay Consolidated School District. Some, including myself, have wondered if there are ulterior motives at play from Governor Markell, city leaders, some state legislators, the Delaware Department of Education, and the State Board of Education. I’ve always hypothesized there is a secret plan to increase the number of charters in Wilmington or make it an all-charter district.
The bottom line is it will come down to funding. The state of Delaware is already projected to have a $160-$170 million dollar deficit in next year’s budget. So where will the money come from for this redistricting? I can picture corporations wanting to donate funds, or non-profits like Rodel or the Longwood Foundation. They will have stipulations for these funds, which could change the overall plan for the redistricting. Yes, it needs legislative approval, but what if there is already a consensus among our state legislators? This is conspiracy theory at it’s maximum for a state like Delaware, and I pray I’m wrong. But if the DOE is already reneging on the promised priority school amount for Red Clay, how can the state assure adequate and proper funding for this endeavor?
“As I have said many times, the only way this all works is if Red Clay has a seat at the table as decisions are being made, is properly funded for taking on greater responsibility and is given a reasonable timetable that we all agree to,” Allen said.
What will be important for Red Clay is to make sure they have a seat at the table and they are not what’s on the table!
Governor Markell has less than a year and a half left in his term as Delaware Governor, and he will want to leave his “legacy” on Delaware. The question looms over what that legacy will be, and if it will be for the people of Delaware or corporate interests and the privatization of our schools. I like Tony Allen, and I want to think he is being true to his word on all of this, but there is just way too much that hasn’t been planned or answered in regards to this. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will hopefully provide many of those answers.
Based on the video Delawareonline provided, in attendance were the following: Governor Markell, Tony Allen, WEAC Vice Chair Dan Rich, State Rep. Charles Potter, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Kenny Rivera, Elizabeth Lockman, Kendall Massett (Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network), Karen Eller (Christina School District teacher and WEAC member), Delaware PTA Vice-President for Advocacy Yvonne Johnson, State Board of Education member Gregory Coverdale, Red Clay Consolidated Superintendent Merv Daugherty, WEAC member and legislative aide Meghan Wallace, legislative aide Mark Rucci, and many others. If anyone wants to add names that I missed or don’t know, feel free to comment or email me.