If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet! Plans are afoot. And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone!
When all is said and done there will be NO MORE Christina School District. I’m not talking their Wilmington schools. I’m saying the WHOLE district will be dead and gone. Yeah, okay, so what happens to all those students? From what I’m hearing, the Christina Wilmington kids will go to Red Clay. The Newark/Bear/Glasgow students will go to Colonial with a possibility of some in the southern end going to Appoquinimink.
So what will be the trigger for all this? It could be many things. To get this out of the way, Carney will NOT sign an Executive Order making all this happen. The legal hurdles he would have to go through for that would be bigger than he even he could bear. It will come from another party. Most likely a judicial party. Someone, or some group, will sue the district. A judge will make this happen. If I had to guess, I would say the PACE Network in Wilmington will be the party that puts the nail in Christina’s coffin.
When is this going to go down? I don’t have an exact timeline. It could happen as soon next September, or sometime during the next couple of years. It will happen before Governor Carney’s term ends in January, 2021, that’s for sure!
Carney, like Markell before him, has a gun and Christina is #1 with a bullet! While he wasn’t babbling about seeing Love Seed Mama Jump, the Governor left a distinct message to Delaware in his State of the State Address yesterday. He basically told everyone the gun is cocked and he is about to pull the trigger.
Christina School District’s portion of the City schools — Bayard, Stubbs, Bancroft, Palmer, and Pulaski — need our help the most. So for the past six months, we have been trying to form a partnership with the district to lift up our city children. The state has offered Christina support for smaller class sizes, more professional development for teachers, critical capital upgrades, an early learning center and parent supports. We are working with the Christina community to come up with ideas for using the existing school buildings in a way that is better for kids. This may be the most difficult thing we do during this Administration, but it is clearly the most important. Next week, I’ll be coming to you with a budget request to help us with these efforts, and I’ll be asking for your support.
The Governor has lost patience with Christina. The Delaware DOE knows they are helpless. But this isn’t just about them putting a target on Christina. The district has done this to themselves. They have contributed more to this outcome than anyone else.
So what is it about Christina that draws the ire of so many? Is it their budget woes? Is it their board? Is it their test scores? Is it their dilapidated buildings? Is it their dwindling enrollment? Is it the unused space in their buildings? Is it that the State can’t fix Wilmington but education is a very easy scapegoat? Is it the administrators of the district? I would say all the above. I can tell you what it isn’t. It is not the teachers who would fight like hell for the children they teach. It is not the students who can’t help where they live or the circumstances that surround them. It is not John Young. Or Liz Paige.
In the coming months, you will be very surprised to see who comes out in support of this. Folks you would NEVER imagine wanting this to happen. It will change the landscape of public education in New Castle County. Brandywine will want no part of this and they won’t. But the rest will. And the ironic part is they may not have a choice. A judicial decree created Christina in the first place and another one will dismantle it.
I will say Christina has tried to prevent this. But the train has been in motion for a long time now. What won’t happen? You will not see all the Christina schools become charter schools. Charters are still around and they aren’t going anywhere. But they will not take on all these students. I have no doubt Newark Charter School will attempt some way to take full advantage of this. They have their next charter renewal later this year. I could easily see them submitting a major modification to increase the size of their school again. And because they do so well on all those nifty test scores, they will get a ten-year charter renewal. Timing is everything!
There is another facet to this that most folks wouldn’t even think of. Many Christina buildings are in disarray, but the land they are on is some prime real estate. This could be a windfall for whoever happens to be in the right position at the right time. In a situation like this, there will always be winners and losers.
The ramifications of this will be enormous. For example, during the planning stages of the draft the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission created, it called for Christina’s Wilmington students to go to Red Clay. That didn’t mean Red Clay was just going to take all the teachers along with the students. Red Clay wanted the teachers to reapply for their jobs. Will the same thing happen again? As for Colonial, do they have the means and the capacity to take on all the other students? Like I said, they may not have a choice.
The death drums of Christina have been beating for a long time. But the beat got louder once John Carney took office. The whole MOU thing between his office and Christina is a smokescreen in my opinion. Christina’s badass back and forth with the Governor’s office has created a huge rift between them and the Governor. Whether their board accepts the MOU or not is immaterial at this point. There will be a Dual Generation Center in Wilmington and the Wilmington schools will consolidate into Red Clay. Colonial and Appo will take on the rest.
Will the students of Christina have better outcomes out of Christina? Way too soon to tell with that. I don’t believe any of these plans will substantially change Wilmington. It won’t improve Smarter Balanced scores. It will be shiny and new for a while and it will placate the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Carney. The Governor will prance around saying “I did what Jack couldn’t do.” The Newark/Bear/Glasgow legislators will pipe down with their education arguments. And they will certainly be re-elected because they helped “solve” the Christina problem. It might bring in some new business to Delaware, but over time the old chestnut will reappear in the form of low test scores, the violence in Wilmington, and the discipline issues affecting those schools. Because if the Governor doesn’t manipulate this move without the necessary resources: reading specialists, basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade, getting rid of Smarter Balanced and all that goes with it, truly investing in educators with the supports they truly need to do their jobs, and lower class sizes, it will all be for not.
Between this and the recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU in regards to education funding, chances are pretty good Delaware citizens will be paying for this in the form of higher taxes. Once again, a judicial decree will force Delaware to change their education funding. And the legislators will get off scot-free when they mandate a change in property assessments because a judge told them to.
I’ve written a ton about Christina on here. But this will be their defining post. Everything else will just be fallout spinning out of this one. This is a Davey and Goliath story. But Davey ran out of ammo with this one. And made some mistakes along the way. Goliath too will pay a price for their hubris. Because you can only do so many remixes of the same song. It is still, at heart, the same song. You can change the name, but you can’t change the lyrics. The legislators and any Delaware Governor have always known what has to happen in Wilmington, but none of them have the guts to actually do it. They lack the political backbone to make it happen. So they fall back on education. As if that will solve the issues. It won’t.
This article has been sponsored, in part, by Governor Carney, the Delaware Department of Education, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the Delaware State Board of Education, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware Business Roundtable, DelawareCAN, the PACE Network, Jon Sheehan, Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, State Senators David Sokola and Bryan Townsend, State Representatives Earl Jaques, Melanie Smith, and Paul Baumbach, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, Newark Charter School, Saul Ewing, and the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. There are some others and don’t think I don’t know exactly who you are. But that will come in due time.