2021 School Board Playbook
EQUITY FOR ALL
Why I Care
I know that I possess what an education reform advocate needs, which is the desire and ability to find the underlying obstacles that cause the disarray of a system so that we may tackle them. My belief system follows the idea that our humanity should triumph in the way we do business, structure education, and provide childcare. Our humanity should guide us as we build our healthcare system, protect ourselves and our environment, and create shelter. The lack of communication and listening between Delaware policymakers and the people who are actively affected by their policies fuels government-wide deficits in strategic planning. The lack of leveraging of our combined resources creates cracks and holes that disadvantage the most marginalized members of our community. I am already focused within the community to better our understanding. Using Department of Education (DOE) report cards and Delaware Open Data, I am working to substantiate and prove without a doubt the injustices in our school systems.
“A 4TH grade child who does not read at grade level has a 90% chance of living in poverty, and is fourteen times more likely to go through the prison system.”
October 17TH, 2018 at 5:10 p.m, the trajectory of my daily life changed as I stood within Stubbs Elementary School. I passionately shared my despair over our public school system failing to teach Delaware children to read and be math literate. My heart was heavy for the children whom I know deserved a better education than what they were getting. I discussed and debated with school officials, but realized it was not explicitly their fault. They were working within a system that punished children for their zip code, parent’s socioeconomic status, and skin color. I realized that it was the system with which I needed to direct my passion and anger. In order for there to be a change, it is important for people to vote for leaders who will work within the system to change it and create equitable education for all.
I could no longer stand idle as I encountered children’s human and civil rights being violated by an education system. Our education system should be fostering the skills to be independent and fearless within our children; they are the leaders of the future and our schools should focus on helping our children gather all of the necessary skills they will need to be successful regardless of their backgrounds.
This is my focus. Complacency and inertia are our two biggest hurdles to overcome; complacency within a system that disparages our youth and the inertia of long-standing public officials who have done little to change it. Recognizing what is right and what is wrong is not the hard task at hand. What is difficult is sitting down, listening, and compromising to find the solution that provides the most equitable outcome. It certainly cannot be done alone, and I look forward to meeting and working with Delaware residents so that we can most efficiently solve this issue.
How do I plan to fix this? For my ideal battle plan, I'd need to get Governor Carney onto the task of truly reforming our educational system. His office is the one with the most muscle power to pull the lever. Whether or not he is a natural reformer can and will change with applied public pressure. Right now, at this moment, there are practical Coronavirus concerns that override everything. The way the Delaware DOE is structured right now is as a support mechanism with the 19 Districts retaining the decision-making power. One problem we have is that the current and historical funding for the Districts varies a lot. We will soon see what happens with the reopening and how it will change for students throughout this year. It's my highest hope that that this goes well for the students, that Delaware has put communications in place for all students to have internet access, and that everything will at the very least be transparent and be tracked.
I would then move to replace our current Secretary of Education with a team of three people, who could then restructure the DOE into a triage unit dedicated to educational equity. A comprehensive list of specific obstacles would be made, prioritized, and added to as needed. This list would then be attacked by the entirety of the DOE. Delivering educational equity is no small task. Pushing everything down to the District level, on the heads of a few people who already are tasked with merely delivering what they have on hand in the best way possible. It's been my impression that our District leaders and staff are only human and should not have to work around the clock. For the past 20 years, there have been approximately nine different versions of a committee to provide educational equity. The two volumes of academic research produced by WEIC cited inertia and complacency as the most common obstacles. In most respects, all past attempts have failed. One of the highest reaching occurred in 2016.
Senator Blevins blocked Joint House Resolution No 12, on June 30th, 2016. Rep Bolden had "emphasized the need to support equal opportunities for all students. She asked the committee to support HJR 12 to give Wilmington students a chance for a better future." (Education Committee Meeting Minutes, May 18th, 2016). Senators McDowell, Poore and Townsend were among the only affirmative votes. Blevins was interested in saving her seat up for election in this negative vote, and as pro temp, the Senate knowingly voted against equity in favor of supporting Blevins. She lost her seat anyway. Her replacement sits on the Redding Consortium Redistricting Committee. They are still trying to sort it out, four years later. How many children have not been taught to read in the meantime? I think about the Blevins vote often. That's what I see and hear when I go to Legislative Hall, and I want it to be different.
More steps I plan to take:
Listen and support the work of the Redding Consortium in an authentic way. Communicate their message to all members of General Assembly, a bipartisan effort. You may think this is simple, but I gave the past context above because this has not been effectively done by our legislators to date. We have to get people on board. https://www.solutionsfordelawareschools.com/
Take fully funding bills like HB100 seriously. Work with Rep Longhurst and Rep Schwartzkopf on how to do this. They are the power brokers for the State Democratic Party.
Reach out to what is currently happening in the Red Clay School Board. Contact Delaware Education Data Forum Red Clay School District members, Gerri Marshall and Hugh Broomall.
I'm interested in identifying and defining a path forward at the start of the process. Dr. Peoples helped me get on the right track to publish a data set on Delaware Open Data as he also supports an equity study. We both knew the DOE would say no - but he took the time to ask, and now I have the denial of my request in writing and instructions for moving forward.