WEIC Public Hearing At Brandywine Springs Brings A Different Crowd

Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission held their fourth public hearing concerning the draft plan for the redistricting of Wilmington schools last night at Brandywine Elementary School.  Shana O’Malley with WDEL wrote about the WEIC draft concerns earlier today.

Something’s broken in the school system and no amount of money is going to fix that.

Many attendees expressed concern with the funding for this initiative in Wilmington Schools and how it will not only affect citizens in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, but the entire state.

“If it’s socioeconomic, something going on in the house, that belongs to social services,” said one parent. “The school district is not in the business of taking care of the mental health aspects of these kids, providing for them. Where are the parents at?”

With the Every Student Succeeds Act, there is a section on “Community Schools” where many of these services would be provided.  It is a very fine line in my opinion.  There is a huge difference between the population at Brandywine Springs Elementary and Warner Elementary.  One is out in the suburbs and the other is in the middle of the city.  Is it fair for a more affluent population to protest funding for the low-income populations?  This is the age-old question.  It also gets into the whole school choice issue in Delaware as well, especially up in Wilmington.  Some folks would love nothing more than “government schooling”, the public school system, to go away.  This crowd favors school vouchers to have funding diverted to private schools.  But then on the other end of the spectrum, we have students in Wilmington, usually African-American, who don’t have a complete family unit and live in neighborhoods filled with crime and drug use.  These are two completely different worlds, however, the first world inadvertently helped create the second world through “white flight”.

The speaker asked where the parents are at.  They could both be working.  It could be a single-parent home.  A parent could be in prison or deceased.  But chances are, a parent in Hockessin makes a lot more money than the parent of a child at these Wilmington schools.  If parents are unable to set up mental health services for children, when does the city, county or state need to step in?  It comes down to the haves and the have-nots.  The haves want to keep what they have but the have-nots see what the haves have and want that but are unable to get it themselves.  But here is the key issue: these are children who didn’t write the script here.  This is the world they were born into.  Should inner-city students be denied the things folks in the suburbs take for granted?  This became very evident at Skyline Middle School in Red Clay this fall.  Due to a change in feeder patterns, Skyline took in many students who are considered disadvantaged.  As a result, school bullying increased causing parent outcry at their past couple board meetings.

These are the modern issues of the day.  We have come a long way since the first half of the 20th century when blacks were separated from whites.  We are, and should be, past that.  But economic levers still dictate these kinds of situations from happening in many cities in America.  For any issues like WEIC to work, it is going to take a lot of listening, convincing, and patience.  It will take compromise, from all sides of the issues.  But the big problem here is the timing.  Some of the people behind WEIC are afraid that if the moment passes it will be lost for a generation.  So in a sense, it is being rushed.  During an election year, and even during a gubernatorial election year.  If it comes down to the rich wanting separation and the poor wanting equity, with the dwindling middle class straddling both sides of the issues, we will get nowhere.  And in all of this, are those with disabilities.  Students from low-income, a minority and a disability.  If we keep these children “out” of the public school system in our affluent areas, is that not a form of triple segregation?  We can’t just rely on the status quo in Delaware.  These are deep concerns that affect the viability of our state.  Compared to many other states, we are woefully behind not only in education but also moving away from the past.  In this “me” versus “society as a whole”, I personally choose society.  Because if society isn’t right, I don’t feel I can be in my head knowing I’m not contributing to society.  I know, we all pay taxes.  Some pay more, some pay less.  Nothing in life is free.  We pay for products that constantly go up in price, but complain when taxes go up.  Why?

9 thoughts on “WEIC Public Hearing At Brandywine Springs Brings A Different Crowd

  1. I promise to keep this short. I spent enough hours studying achievement data from 2000-2008 to earn a PHD. At the end of the day- the numbers prove high poverty children by and large perform better as measured by the scale score in reading and math if they attend a school with under 40% poverty in Grade 2. Their score may say unsatisfactory or satisfactory but they have a scale score. There is an expectation of a certain amount of growth in that scale score to make the cut each year. If the child is in a school with less than 40% poverty – that scale score is in the range for them to make a reasonable amount of growth to make the cut score for 3rd. If that grade 2 scale score is too low to make the necessary growth to make the cut score to be proficient by 3rd grade- they never catch up.

    I spent way too much time asking “why”- reading the research and at the end of the day – I oversimplified all the research into one commonsense finding. The high poverty children need to talk to the children from language rich homes when they are little. They need to talk in the class, at lunch, waiting in line at the water fountain and increase their exposure to rich, imaginary, multiple syllabic language all the time- and when they are in K-2 they just like to talk and they need to be in a language rich classroom with a teacher that is highly qualified and certified in Special Ed.

    When they are in grades 3-5- there was no advantage of being in low poverty. Children in high poverty schools with good programs like Kuumba and Edison and now East Side could out perform district schools.

    Grades 6-8 it becomes counter productive. Grade 8 students in 90% poverty; 90% African American can be selected for the “high math class.” When they are in the “high math class” they feel good about themselves and they achieve at the same level as their suburban counterparts but the “high math class” is still all African American and they share similar social cultural challenges – and it is really cool to see tough city kids act tough because they are the smarty pants- and their parents can be involved in the school because it is in the city. Being the cool guy because you are smart at Edison is cool to see.

    Shipping Grade 8 tough kids to the suburbs does not correlate an increase in achievement and creates some resentment which can be expressed as being a thug- that “be what” my kids told me at Gander Hill. Even if they are smart- they don’t want the suburban teachers and or kids to think they are “soft.”

    The data does not show that a child eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch who is African American will be more likely to meet the standard if he is in a school in the suburbs than a high performing city school. The numbers do not lie. Pardon the broad sweeping generalizations- but all based on data.


    1. Sue, if what you are saying is true, than you need to write all this down in a clear and concise way. Take out all the comparisons and write it down in a way those making decisions will understand. You have until midnight on Friday. That is when the public comment section for Delaware Met’s formal review ends. Writing it on here is good, but you need to enter this officially into the official public comment form on the DOE website. If there are those with intimate knowledge of special ed out there that agree with her, they need to do the same.


      1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Blogs are fun because you can just rant. There is nothing that will keep the school open.
        ( in my opinion)

        The law firms on French Street have made it clear to the Mayor that they wanted it closed immediately. The Mayor cannot afford to lose the tax revenue from businesses open on French and King Street. The mayor does not want to commit the police to breaking up fights on French street between two girls or having street gangs hang out on the corner waiting for Met kids. Truthfully, I can’t blame him. I was on French Street right smack in the middle of the fight they called a riot and it was crazy if you did not know and like all the kids. It was two girls fighting over a 4’11 Middle School kid..

        The mayor needs people excited about working in the city.

        We should have exited the walkers out the gym door on Walnut Street – the ones that walk home so the Law firms on French Street would not hear or see our kids.

        There is no one left in Leadership that understands Big Picture and Pritchett Associates sends substitute Principals that not only do not know about Big Picture- I doubt it would be their model of choice.

        There is only a handful of teachers trained in Big Picture.

        I am sick and sad. It is so fixable.

        I think they should stay open till the end of the year because the students that are left have said they want the school to open and they are willing to work hard to prove they deserve the school to stay open. I think closing mid-year will create a hardship on the districts. I plan to tutor a few of my students at the library to make sure they do not lose any credits.

        It is sad- and we have failed the kids that least deserve to be failed by the adults they trusted.


      2. We can’t change Special Ed Processes- they eat their young and all then nice people vanish in the spaceship heading up.

        The people that talk in 3 letter acronyms and Kilroy dissed on a lot of them- they think they are superior and they create forms with lots of lines and boxes and they are ruling the planet. They are talent managers that study metrics and seek thought partners for conversations around the data sets….

        Sometimes I have to laugh. I can drive over to one of the hot spots at 5th and Jefferson on the West Side or 25th and Market on the North Side or 8th and Kirkwood on the East Side at 5 PM on a Friday night and I will yuk it up with the guys on the corner- leave my wallet on the seat of my car in plain site and not have one ounce of fear- but if I have to go to a meeting with anyone in Dover- the hair on my arms stands up and I fear for my life.

        They win. My school will close and I will vanish….who knows where i will pop up again but I do not have any fight left in me. There are good teachers at the Met besides me- and they are all sad too.


        1. I have been to plenty of meetings in Dover, and I have never been afraid. Anxious, nervous before public comment, yes. But afraid, no. You give them far too much power by saying that.


          1. You have not been with the people that can impact your paycheck. I have Post Traumatic Stress from the Adult Ed work- group. They get vitamin boosts by bullying do-gooders.

            The Science Associate started the meeting with daggers aimed directly at me because I dared clarify what they hell was going to be on the end of the 10th grade test. I openly admitted I had been in jail for 5 years so it is understandable that previously I was in a k-8 school so how in the hell would I know what content was covered on a 10th grade test?

            Sending and email saying in a friendly voice: “Hey – can you help me understand what we should teach outside science class to refresh or reteach content that will be tested?”

            That is one of the first rules of Turnaround- find out what is tested and create a calendar to make sure you hit all the tested content. Toss some content into other areas- like art, music or homeroom so you can get it all in…

            You would have thought I was poisoning her organic garden- she opened the meeting taking my name in vain to let me know who was wearing the smarty pants at that table.

            That is why the shooters and other offenders at Gander were such a pleasure- they were never bullies.


      1. But you have to say that you will never do it again- ever for any reason! Blogs are here for a purpose- to tell a story that is not ready for mainstream- for people to have a voice and be anonymous if they choose. I did a ton of investigative research for Kilroy but he never outed me. Swear it will never happen again to build up people that feel free to comment safely. That is why I did not blog on your site anonymously- you would have gotten some real good stuff!!!


        1. That’s what email is for! 😉 But seriously, it was a one-time deal. I was put in the hot seat over her shenanigans, and because of who she is, I had no choice. All who comment on here are given safe haven.


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