“When it comes to justice for children of color in the city, it has never been the General Assembly, it has always been the courts or the federal government that acts,” Street said. “I don’t think this is going to be any different.”
Civil rights advocate Jea Street told the News Journal he will sue the state of Delaware if the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan doesn’t pass. The Delaware General Assembly has a limited amount of time to act on the plan. There are six more voting days in the House of Representatives and nine in the Senate. One of the bills was released from the House Education Committee but two others haven’t been heard yet. If the bills pass the House, they must go to the Senate Education Committee. Time is running out but so is the patience of advocates like Street.
Most other states have created systems that give extra funds to high-poverty schools, but Delaware’s system, he says, assumes a school in a violence- and poverty-wracked neighborhood can operate with the same resources as a school in a quiet, wealthy suburb. “You talk to any expert, they’ll tell you that’s not how it works,” Street said.
Street was front and center during the press conference announcing the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state and Red Clay Consolidated. I haven’t heard Street talk about that lawsuit since it was announced. That lawsuit alleged Delaware and Red Clay allowed charter schools to use discriminatory practices for enrollment purposes citing schools such as Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy. I don’t see him beating on that drum anymore. That lawsuit has been lingering for over a year and a half while the Office of Civil Rights stalls on the investigation. I have to wonder why the News Journal doesn’t talk about that when they are writing an article about discrimination in Wilmington.
On the other hand, I agree with Street. Delaware passes the baton to the courts or the feds when things don’t change in the General Assembly. But when the article talks about the schools in Wilmington being operated by districts in the suburbs, the Wilmington schools will still be handled by a district from the suburbs. The inequities he is talking about will still be there, but they will be more concentrated in one district. From what I’m hearing, the Education Funding Improvement Commission report is delayed and may not be out by June 30th. Having gone to one of the meetings, no one could seem to agree on any one viable strategy. I’ve found Delaware likes to talk about education… a lot! But when it comes time to make the crucial decisions, everyone sits like a deer in the headlights. In the meantime, children suffer. We spend tons of money on research and reports but we don’t do anything with it. We had that huge Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities. The DOE paid Public Consulting Group somewhere around $50,000 to do that report. And what do we have to show for it? Absolutely nothing. It is money that could have been used on something viable, like an extra teacher in one of these schools. Instead we piss away money on absolute nonsense!