As I plow head-first into Delaware education funding, I am finding inconsistencies galore! Now that the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has “officially” voted to suspend the timeline based on the Delaware General Assembly crafting legislation which essentially kicks the can for just another year, they have also been charged with taking another look at the fiscal impact. The News Journal came out with an article on this today. My advice to WEIC: make sure the education funding we already have is being used properly before you dive into weighted funding formulas for Delaware at-risk students.
Dan Rich, the policy advisor for WEIC from the University of Delaware, had this to say about weighted funding:
“That’s a key piece,” Rich said. “The top priority for funding is not for redistricting, per se, but for providing funding for the kids at greatest risk.”
It is a key piece of a puzzle that has thousands of pieces and no one has made sure the pieces fit together. Some districts and charters are not spending money wisely, or even ethically. We all know this, but in Delaware we have become a “hear nothing, do nothing” state. With the simple art of just not listening and ignoring the people of the state, our leaders in Government look the other way. They don’t want to deal with the corruption and fraud, and not just in education.
But according to Rich, he wants to bring outside organizations into this convoluted mess in our schools. Saranac Hale Spencer from the News Journal wrote:
While the commission examines the fiscal impact of the plan in the coming months, it will also be working on other things, Rich said, explaining that it has begun mapping out the kinds of educational services offered by Wilmington institutions. A number of organizations offer resources to students and schools, but they aren’t necessarily in communication with each other.
It will also be looking to other communities to see how they have connected those assets to support schools and, in a similar project, it will be looking at the various state and local policies that affect poor families and children to see how they align and how they are funded.
Let me be crystal clear: I am all for better schools. I think every student deserves a chance at success, even the most at-risk students. But when the system is already broken, through federal, state and district mandates, and a funding system that has no checks and balances already, why the hell would we try something new and unproven (for Delaware)? If we can’t control education funding now with proper oversight and audits of our districts and charters, why would we add to the existing mess? We can’t guarantee funding is going to the right places now. And some (many in power) want to add more funding to that?
This is the biggest problem in Delaware. Everyone always has a solution to move forward, but they leave the old wreckage behind and try to cover it up. It’s still there, rotting under the surface. If the foundation is rotten, nothing anyone says or does will fix anything. We all know this, but nothing changes. Until we take the current system apart and find the cracks in the foundations and fix them, no new funding mechanism is going to change anything. I know what it means if this happened. It takes courage for this to happen. It takes courage for enough of us to step up and demand this from our state. Sending emails with everyone and their mother cc’ed on it doesn’t work. We know this. We need to take this to the next level. Some of us are taking those next steps. But if you are reading this, comment. Come up with ideas. Beyond the “request a meeting and talk about it behind closed doors when nothing ever gets accomplished”. Beyond the next task force that will come up empty-handed. We need to start asking the big questions, but more importantly, the right questions. This is not a teacher issue. This is not a student issue. These are administration issues. Financial issues. That go way beyond a miscoding here and there. We can pretend this isn’t really going on, but it is. Our state knows about it. The DOE knows a lot of this. And our State Auditor most certainly knows about it. It isn’t just a district or a charter thing. It is all of it. It is time to rip the Band-Aides off the rotting flesh and expose. Who is in?
In the meantime, John Carney weighed in on the whole WEIC thing with what amounts to his usual hum-drum responses with absolutely no backbone behind anything.
His likely successor, U.S. Rep. John Carney, who is running on the Democratic ticket for governor, hasn’t committed to keeping that money in the budget.
He said in a prepared statement, “I am, however, committed to doing whatever is necessary to give every child the quality education they deserve, particularly those facing the kinds of obstacles WEIC is most concerned about.”
I’m sorry Mr. Carney, but at this point in the game, you should be coming up with ideas of your own and not relying on others to come up with them. You are running for Governor! Not the school student council.
So with that being said, I am offering an invitation to all the candidates running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Congress. I am inviting you all to an education forum on The Green, in front of Legislative Hall. There will be no admission for the public. Please commit a few hours for this. I’ll do the legwork and get the people there. We need to hear from all of you about what your plans are for education in our state. My email address is email@example.com. Let’s all coordinate a date so ALL of you can make it, before the primary. And let’s do this soon. Let’s also do this before school starts. Do your homework, formulate your positions. And know that we are going to ask the tough questions without any easy answers. You won’t know what they are beforehand. Education is too important to have your staff come up with the answers for you. If you want to lead, then know what you are leading. If any of you email me and say “I can’t make it but I would love to sit down with you and discuss education with you”, then in my mind you aren’t willing to go that extra step for the people of this state.
So if the following candidates could email me with five possible dates, in the early evening, between now and August 19th. Yes, time is short. It is less than two months before the primaries. And less than four months until the General Election. But I want to hear from ALL of you. The people do as well. And Mr. Carney, please do not ignore this. As the front-runner for Governor, you are who I want to hear from the most. We need to know you won’t be a rubber stamp for Jack Markell’s very damaging policies. We also don’t want you thinking this is going to be an easy ride for you. And Jack Markell, I would respectfully ask you to please stay out of this. You had your time. It’s ending. It is time for new and better ideas.
Lisa Blunt Rochester
La Mar Gunn
I can tell you right now, weekends and Mondays are out. This could be your chance to truly leave a mark on this election. Your audience will want to hear what you are going to do, not what you have done. Yes, your many accomplishments are important. But we need a change for the future. This is your chance to shine. Not in front of a group of wealthy people who can afford an expensive plate. This is you getting real, with real people. This debate is not sponsored by anyone. It is a grassroots gathering, outside. No microphones. Just people talking. I encourage as many Delaware residents who can make it to attend.
I won’t assume all of you read this article, so I will be emailing you and contacting all of you tomorrow.