On June 29th, Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote a letter to State Representatives Charles Potter and Stephanie Bolden and State Senator Margaret-Rose Henry. In the letter he expressed his regret at not being able to “fully support” the funding for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan and how he expects to appropriate $7.5 million in his recommended FY2018 budget in January, 2017. Later in the letter he states he will appropriate the funding in his recommended budget. Back in September of 2014, Markell issued an Executive Order which created the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee which issued recommendations that became WEIC. By doing so, through Executive Order, that should have been his FULL support. Instead, he kicked the can down the road because he wasn’t able to give this his “full support”.
I’ve always wondered what the deal was with this. It happened as Christina and Red Clay were calling for the DOE’s throat over the priority schools. Constituents were pissed and the above-mentioned legislators, along with others, pleaded with Governor Markell to do something. I firmly believe the entire WEIC redistricting plan was the official reaction to the priority schools. But did Jack bite off more than he could chew with this? By essentially creating all of this, it brought city advocates for under-served, under-funded, and high-needs city children to the forefront of Delaware education conversation. It quickly became clear that much more was needed than the state would be able to deliver. In hindsight though, it did force us as a state to renew conversations about race, education, funding, economic class, discrimination, and so much more. Before the budget vote, State Rep. Stephanie Bolden explained how we are all neighbors in Delaware and what happens in Wilmington has a trickle-down effect to the rest of the state. The opposite could be said though. What doesn’t happen downstate affects the entire state. It is my hope that as WEIC uses their extra year of planning that they add Kent and Sussex County voices to these essential conversations.
I don’t trust Markell to keep his word. By the time he submits this budget, his time as Governor is done. He will be sailing off to his next destination (for which I will be happy unless it lands him at the US DOE). But even if he does, that is no guarantee that 1) the money will be there in a year, 2) the Joint Finance Committee will appropriate it, or 3) The General Assembly will approve it in the budget bill for FY2018. This is not, by far, a done deal.