Today marks the first anniversary of the death of Amy Joyner-Francis. Students around the state are enjoying their last day of Spring Break before the weekend kicks in and they go back to school on Monday. The leaves are popping out and flowers are in bloom. It’s a foggy and overcast morning, just like the one on April 21st, 2016. Those who contributed to Amy’s death have gone through the legal sentence and two out of three await sentencing.
I still think about Amy’s death quite a bit. It was a shock to all of us in Delaware that students could be so vicious. We learned the details of Amy’s death after. We know there was a sharp increase in the number of fights at Howard High School of Technology. We know social media played a huge role in the events leading to her death. We know the perpetrators planned the fight ahead of time. But nothing prevented Amy’s death. It should have.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Amy’s family. No parent should ever lose a child. But this case was very public.
I look at it this way, based on my beliefs. Amy has spent a year in Heaven with God our Father. She doesn’t know pain or suffering and I have no doubt she has shared her love with her family and friends. Her grace could be the feeling of calm and peace some of them felt in odd moments over the past year.
I hope we have learned some lessons from Amy’s death. I hope her death meant something and it contributed to something bigger. I hope we have learned to be a little bit kinder to people and to be a little more forgiving. I hope we have learned that sometimes words of healing are better than hands of violence. It won’t take away the heartache and grief so many still feel for her, but we all get a lifetime.
A year ago today, I received an anonymous email indicating Delaware Met was closing. The Wilmington charter school opened a month before and it was a disaster from the first day. While the school didn’t voluntarily close, it was on the drawing table that weekend. After confirming this information with a couple other people, I posted the story. Shock followed shock as the public found out everything about the school. The fights, the bullying, the special education problems, the teacher problems, the board problems, and so on. For the first time, since “David Morgan” never got back in touch with me, I am releasing the email I received that day.
I responded right away…
I didn’t think David Morgan would respond, but he did.
It would be about a month and a half until I heard from David Morgan again. By that time, Delaware MET was well into formal review. I googled the hell out of the name David Morgan but I couldn’t find any trace of this person anywhere in Delaware. Does anyone want to see more Dave Morgan emails? I’ve tried to reach “Dave” since our last communication in early 2016, but there has been zero response. Let me know!
Exactly one year ago today, Kilroy’s Delaware posted the first part of “A Father’s Cry For His Son”. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I remember what drove me to just start writing the night before. Kilroy and I planned the whole thing for weeks. It was just a matter of finding the right words and method. I wanted to tell the story about my son’s years at a Delaware charter school. As a result, I wrote fourteen very long parts of that story for over a month. Four days later, Exceptional Delaware was born.
I look back and see things remaining the same, and some are vastly different. It’s like a science experiment. First you have a theory, and then you do the experiment, and then you find out if you were right or not. Along the way you have catalysts and other factors that may affect the experiment. Was I right? Did my theories hold the weight of truth? Some of them did, and others were close. Some went way beyond what I thought they ever could be. But to me, it’s the journey along the way. The people you meet and the things you do.
One thing I do know for sure, but I thought at the time. Not all charter schools are evil. I think I realized this when Gateway Lab School was on the potential chopping block and I found myself doing everything I could to save them. Yes, I write about the problems at many Delaware charters but I think many of those issues are systemic and could improve with the right amount of legislation, some of which arealready in the works.
Once opt-0ut and House Bill 50 are decided on, I want to get back to the basics, making life better for special needs students. Granted, the ESEA reauthorization may take care of opt-out in one fell scoop with one of the amendments to the Senate bill. So many of my battles will be decided on if that legislation passes. Some will remain. To get a good look at the bill, look at the article prior to this one from the fantastic Mercedes Schneider. Together, her and Diane Ravitch keep me abreast of all the national education news.
With so many potential looming decisions on the horizon, it’s very important we keep the momentum going and try to figure out what’s next. It will be a time of rebuilding and making sure the foundations are the right ones for students. I am no expert on these matters, so I leave that to the many more than capable teachers and parents out there who have the knowledge base to do what’s right.
Take a look back at my humble beginnings a year ago today in the first part of A Father’s Cry For His Son. I still feel like I can’t thank Kilroy enough for letting me take up so much of his blog in May 2014. I will always be forever grateful. They say everyone has a purpose in life. Maybe this was mine. History will determine that.