So… Tom Gordon And Dennis P. Williams Wrote A Letter

Filed in National by on April 3, 2013

I’m still mulling over this letter, and while I’m not sure exactly where this is headed, I am thrilled that someone is finally pointing out the problems with our city schools.  Here’s the letter, and as usual Kilroy has more thoughts here and here.

March 20, 2013

We write to express our concerns about several New Castle County public school problems; to seek from you and other district school officials updated facts and data about these problems, and to ask for your support in having the two of us, as City and County elected officials, to become involved in resolving these problems.

The problems, as presented to us by a growing number of complaints from constituents, are those of (1) the alarming and increasing number of Wilmington public school students who are becoming “Drop-Outs”, and (2) the perceived inequities and disproportionate nature of the New Castle County public school student busing systems (causing massive loss of productivity due to transportation time).

In what follows, we briefly highlight the essence of these two public school problems, and our need, as the top elected officials in the two political sub-divisions which provide multi-millions of tax support dollars to our school districts, for more information. At the outset, we wish to stress the point that we believe the dropout problem is one which will require new initiatives and involvement from the community at large. We are prepared to use our leadership to dramatize this problem, and to work cooperatively with school officials and the community to find solutions.

Relative to this first problem of school dropouts, we are asking that your Information Technology staff work with our consultants (Pritchett Associates) in further refining the dropout data numbers we have received from the State Dept. of Education. (DOE)-a summary of data submitted by the individual school districts. Unfortunately for us, the DOE student dropout data are broken down only by county, school districts, and· individual schools. Wilmington and its students, our primary focus, are not singled out. For example, we. have been able to verify from DOE data that during the 2010-2011 school year] the student dropout rate in New Castle County was 61%, ( of the statewide total) and that from this ratio, 31.1% were Black; 8.8% were Hispanic ,and 21.1% were White or other. This information is helpful. However, since we are principally concerned at this point about our Wilmington constituents, we are asking your IT staff, working with our consultants, to extract from your district data base those statistics which pertain only to Wilmington student dropouts—and to look at these data in relation to variables such as special education, census tracts, suspension/expulsions, race/gender and other contributing factors to be later determined. Also, please provide information relevant to the graduation rate of those students who reside in the City of Wilmington.

In connection with this student dropout problem, we think it essential that we buttress our assessment of the DOEdata by interviewing a selected sample of students who have in fact dropped out of school, and who could offer personal insights and experiences which contributed to their decisions to drop out. On this particular point, it is to be noted that in the DOE report, officials of only 15% of the individual schools sought to inquire through exit interviews why a student was dropping out. This means that officials at 85% of the schools made no attempt to determine why a student was dropping out. We would need the assistance of local school districts in identifying those student dropouts and/or their families who could be sought out for approval of these interviews.

A second and final public school problem we have asked our consultants to address, with the cooperation of school officials] is that of public school busing within the four New Castle County School Districts. Throughout the Wilmington community, there is a perception that student busing is a “one way street” – namely that busing is viewed as the outflow of urban based (Wilmington) students to suburban based schools verses the supposedly exchange of suburban public school students being bused into urban based, inner city schools. The concern is that there are very few white students being bused into Wilmington.

In the mix of this debate, there is the question of whether federal court guidelines (on busing) are being followed, and whether the Delaware enacted Neighborhood Schools Act (offering students the opportunity to attend schools in close proximity to their neighborhood) is being satisfied. Complicating these questions is the belief of many that there are Wilmington based middle and high school building facilities and some students living near these Wilmington middle and high school facilities, which some Wilmington students (those now being bused) could attend, except that these schools, although located in Wilmington, exist outside of the school districts from which those Wilmington students are being bused.

As a partial response to these questions, we have asked our consultants to seek answers
to the following questions; How many students from your school district are currently being bused to and from Wilmington? What is the racial breakdown of the students being bused? What is the estimated student time being spent per day on public school buses? Are there Wilmington students now being bused to suburban schools, who conceivably could attend a middle or high school building facility in Wilmington if school district boundaries were adjusted to make this happen? What is the estimated number of students who would be affected by such district boundary adjustments?

In conclusion, there is the question of what might be the end result of this data gathering process. It is our intent to require from our consultants a comprehensive final project report which would be presented to a soon to be appointed new, project Citizen Coalition which will have monitored the project data gathering phases; which will participate in the formulation of recommendations for the final report, and which will be the primary advocate group for adoption of project recommendations.

The final project report will embody (A) analysis and interpretation of the aforementioned data sources on student dropouts and student busing; (B) review and analysis of previously prepared study/research reports (about schools in New Castle County) which are related to any of the questions and/issues noted in this letter to New Castle County school officials; (C) presentation and assessment of data gathered from personal interviews with selected student dropouts; (D) study and review of selected research reports/journals about student dropout and student busing issues in other places which are similar to those in New Castle County public schools. The consultants wilt be especially mindful of “BEST PRACTICES”in other places which have proven to be effective in addressing the problems of public school student dropouts and public school busing programs (involving urban and suburban school districts). And (E) most importantly, we will expect our consultants, taking into consideration all of the above noted factors, to prepare a set of report recommendations for action by our local school districts, by our appointed Citizen Coalition and by the Wilmington Community. High priority will be given to those recommendations having to do with actions to be taken by the Wilmington community to help resolve the Wilmington student dropout problem.

Our interest is multifaceted; we believe that the drop-out rate speCifically of African- American males is both contributory, as well as rudimentary to a majority of the sociological challenges of both our City and County. These include unemployment, teen pregnancy, crime and incarceration, homelessness and others, too great to mention here. We believe that an improvement in reducing the high drop-out rate and increasing the graduation rate will have positive lasting affects on all of the aforementioned challenges. We are therefore highly energized on jointly attacking this issue.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our requests. We look forward to partnering with you to resolve these most urgent issues.

Dennis P. Williams
Mayor of Wilmington

Thomas Gordon
New Castle County Executive

Okay, my first concern is that the consultant (Pritchett Associates) has already been chosen.  That seems like putting the cart before the horse and, if Williams and Gordon are serious, and want to be taken seriously, this contract should go out to bid.  Is Pritchett Associates even capable of this sort of data analysis?  A quick look at their website doesn’t yield much information.  There are a lot of bullet points, but the only one dealing with any sort of data analysis comes under the heading of Guidance – and I’m not sure if that relates to the sort of work Gordon and Williams are proposing.

As far as the busing concerns… The idea of a middle or high school within the city isn’t a bad idea on its face.  HOWEVER, if building these schools simply results in re-segregating grades 6 -12 by pulling city kids out of suburban schools and putting them into schools that mirror city elementary schools, then count me out.  All this will accomplish is what we now see at our city elementary schools – extremely expensive, high poverty middle and high schools that will lack the funds to provide a well rounded education with access to all programs for all students.

I’d also like them to expand their focus beyond drop-outs.  Cassandra and I have been emailing about this and she makes a good point:

“Drop outs aren’t the only failures of the system.  Plenty of kids stay with it, are pushed from grade to grade, get their diplomas, but still aren’t ready to take part in college or the work force.  Some of the failures of the system are not about kids dropping out, but under-serving the ones that are there.  This study won’t capture that.  And really, it is the persistent under-serving of the kids they have that is the persistent failure.”

Exactly.  Drop outs are a problem, but they strike me as a symptom of a bigger problem – and that is the fact that our city schools are under-serving our city kids and then wondering why they can’t compete when they enter middle and high school, be it getting into AP, IB, the Cambridge Program or the Charter School of Wilmington.  Our city elementary schools, most of which are ridiculously high poverty, are setting the educational course for our city kids – a course that isn’t feeding into AP, IB, the Cambridge Program or the Charter School of Wilmington.  That’s the problem, and if you’re focusing only on the drop out rate, you’ve missed the boat.

The issue is that all As are not created equal.

Here’s part of a comment I left at Kilroy’s (I have edited it in parts for clarity):

Here’s data I’d be interested in seeing: Has the drop-out/graduation rate increased/decreased since the Neighborhood Schools Act (NSA) and Choice came to be the law of the land? I have no idea, but those numbers would be interesting.

Okay, I do have an idea. Here it is… Choice and the NSA re-segregated our schools (as was their intent) thus creating racially identifiable, high poverty schools. Most districts didn’t address this reality. Instead they hid behind the Choice and NSA law, saying their hands were tied. Meanwhile, high poverty schools were supposed to educate the highest needs, highest risk kids on an equal (not equitable) funding formula. That led to enrichment, accelerated, technology, Odyssey of the Mind, etc. programs being pulled from high poverty schools.

When you have a school with 70%+ poverty things get expensive – something most school districts shrug off by citing choice and NSA. It really does come across as: “But… but… but… the Neighborhood Schools Act! And anyway, if parents are unhappy… Choice!” IMO, these excuses have left school districts off the hook for a basic bit of educational responsibility. It’s like they’re saying, “If you don’t like our failing schools, don’t expect us to do anything because… Choice!” or the flip side, “Our failing schools still have students so they, and their families, must be fine with it… We don’t have to do anything”

Okay, here’s my theory: The drop-out rate is possibly linked to which elementary schools children attend. When kids from high poverty schools enter middle school (with its larger population composed of many elementary schools coming together for the first time) the differences in their education becomes visible. Here is where we see that an A at North Star is different than an A at Shortlidge. The high poverty kids find themselves behind, so far behind that catching up may well be impossible for most. And it’s in middle school where we really begin to see the problems created during K-5.

So, if the majority of kids from high poverty schools enter middle school, and then high schools, behind their peers from non-high-poverty schools and are then placed in special education classes or in the lowest level regular classes is anyone really surprised that a large portion of these students drop out? Hey, I entered high school behind in math. My solution? I dropped out of math after barely fulfilling the basic graduation requirements. Bet we all have a story like this – be it educational, sports, or hobby related. Now imagine entering middle/high school behind in everything. Where would that leave you?

We sabotaged their education in elementary school, and then wonder why they can’t make up those disadvantaged years in middle school and then act surprised when they drop out of an education system that was rigged against them from the beginning.

So here’s where I end up with Gordon and William’s letter.  I’m thrilled that someone is finally talking about city children and the issues facing them.  I’m thrilled that someone is pointing out that the Neighborhood Schools Act re-segregated our schools along racial and socioeconomic lines.  It’s past time, imo.  And I would gladly work with anyone willing to tackle the real educational issues facing our city children.

However, if anyone starts floating the idea of a city school district without supplying the information on the tax base funding it… Stop.  You want to put that idea forth, show me the money.  Yeah, thought so.

In the end, while I’m extremely happy that Gordon and Williams have put down on paper some issues facing education in the city, they must expand their focus beyond drop-out rates and the length of bus rides.  If they are willing to do this… then I’m on board.  If they don’t… then I’m left questioning what their point really is – because it won’t be about improving education at city schools for city kids.

I’m ready to be on board and remain cautiously optimistic.  Here’s hoping this letter is just the beginning (go on, call me naive!) and that we’ll finally deal with what’s been happening to our children’s education for far too long.

As usual, I can be reached at pandora@delawareliberal.net

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (80)

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  1. socialistic ben says:

    . It is really depressing how segregated Wilmington still is. I keep harping on how effective redlining was around here, but It really did create a self-sustaining SES and racial split. As long as the sub-urban white kids can all choice in to the “better schools” these problems are going to remain.
    At the same time, I also think public “alternate schools” (like Cab Calloway for arts or Votechs)should continue to exist.
    I’m dubious of the source. The same impulses that cause me never to trust republicans again after they get caught being criminals applies to Gordon. He has a huge credibility deficit in my mind. I don’t live in Wilmington anymore, so my concerns with Williams don’t really matter here, but I feel like both of them were granted their offices as opposed to earning them.
    I’ve seen a lot of substance-free programs designed to “help kids” that only help the images of the politicians and the pockets of whoever get’s hired to implement them.

  2. SussexWatcher says:

    They might want to have someone halfway literate edit their work before they send it out. Christ, that’s a hot mess.

    “we believe that the drop-out rate speCifically of African- American males is both contributory, as well as rudimentary to a majority of the sociological challenges of both our City and County.” <=== what does this even mean?

    The whole thing appears to be the work of someone who is in love with the sound of their own words and loves bureaucratic bullshit.

    Oh, and remind me again – what role do counties and cities play in education in Delaware? None? Oh, that's right. The schools would be well within their rights to tell these two bozos to stuff it.

  3. socialistic ben says:

    It’s a good idea for the schools to accept their offer to help. As long as the people who would know best how to fix things…. the teachers…. have enough say in what actually gets done. I’m not holding by breath on that one.
    They have a bully pulpit and can influence policy. As long as they both understand this is about fixing schools and not their political legacies or future plans. like i said, i have basically no trust for Gordon.

    SW, they are saying the damages caused by a high drop out rate is compounded by the segregation of Wilmington. African American men have a high drop-out rate + “black” neighborhoods = whole neighborhoods with a lot of people lacking a diploma or GED which kills the area economically.

  4. pandora says:

    My problem is that I’d like them to expand their focus beyond bus rides and drop-outs – and if they’re willing to do this, then I’m willing to jump on board.

    There are serious issues facing our city children, and I’ve written about them often. I will support anyone who is truly trying to address these issues. So, if all you got is “these guys suck” then I don’t have much time for you when there are kids’ futures on the line. That trumps everything for me.

    So yeah, I’m willing to give this a chance. And if I’m proved wrong I’ll write a scathing post. If I’m not then perhaps something could change. I was quite clear that I was cautiously optimistic. Here’s another thing I’m clear about, turn this thread away from education and into a total mudslinging contest on who sucks more and I’ll flip out.

    I’ve had my problems with these two, but credit where credit is due. And if they want to point out that the NSA re-segregates and hurts city children, I’m all ears.

  5. John Manifold says:

    Maurice Pritchett is a magnificent person who was an excellent principal at Bancroft for years.

  6. socialistic ben says:

    I think you misunderstood what I was drivin at. I too expressed cautious optimism…. citing that one of the bigger issues in my opinion is the separate and un-equal nature of Wilmington/NCC.. It seems this letter agrees with that. bully for them.. I simply went on to explain WHY I’m cautiously optimistic. It has to do with the current make-up of who is in charge AND, probably more importantly, every education reform I can remember (including NCLB which went into effect as I entered High school and I actually saw the quality of education drop in real-time) has been written and enacted by people who seem to know nothing about education. Most of what has been said, in fact, has been thoughts and contributions as to WHY the public education system is so bad. I think it’s more than just busing. I think, as is true in a lot of cities, whole sections have just been over-looked and left to slip through the cracks.

    as far as “what’s allowed to be in this thread” … this..” If they don’t… then I’m left questioning what their point really is – because it won’t be about improving education at city schools for city kids.” opens the door to talk about their motives.

  7. pandora says:

    First, Ben, you weren’t the only one commenting, so my comment wasn’t directed solely at you.

    Second, I didn’t say what was “allowed” on the thread. I said, “Here’s another thing I’m clear about, turn this thread away from education and into a total mudslinging contest on who sucks more and I’ll flip out.” You want to speculate on motives, I’m all ears. In fact, I’d welcome more insight into what prompted this letter.

    However, if you (and for the love of god, this is a generic you) want to get shots in and send this post spiraling away from the letter and into how much these two suck on a personal/political level, then I am going to flip out and bring the discussion back to the topic – the letter, why it was written, where could it lead, or where it could not lead.

    You see, I realize that Gordon and Williams are polarizing figures. What I’m hoping to avoid is the typical mudslinging that ensues (from both sides – pro and anti Gordon/Williams) whenever their names are mentioned. Education, especially in the city, is a big issue for me. I’d like that to remain the focus of this thread – which seems like a pretty flippin’ reasonable request.

  8. socialistic ben says:

    Williams is an ex-cop. I think he recognizes the need to reduce crime in the city, not by cracking skulls, but cutting it off at the source. You have better educated young children with better learning facilities, you can create a long term reduction. I won’t even bother thinking about Gordon individually, but I think both men are involved in something that neither one of them has a lot of past experience with. If anything stands out negatively to me, it’s that. Here are some things I want to see defined about this before I can feel good about it.
    1) What, other than busing reforms, do they plan to do about the differences of SES school to school?
    2) How to they plan to address kids who lack sufficient resources at home? (be it a parent who gives enough of a crap to make sure homework gets done or being so disadvantaged that they don’t have the proper computer/internet access to study)
    3) A clear break from the “teach to the test” culture that is absolutely killing education in this country. We need some sort of accountability and reliable, fair ways to check the effectiveness of our schools… although I think they are a VERY small percentage, there are bad teachers who need to be in a different profession. The way it’s been done for the past decade has made things far worse.

  9. SussexWatcher says:

    A honest-to-God focused-on-education question:

    Why should anyone listen to people talk about education when they do not understand proper punctuation, capitalization, spacing or word use? Any high school teacher would send this document back covered in red ink.

    I’m not making the case that “these guys suck.” I’m asking what credibility they are going to have with the school districts when they send letters such as this. It does not suggest competence.

    The message may be right, but are the messengers?

    Additionally, educational policy in Delaware is set at the state level. What power and authority can these two even muster to change anything?

  10. socialistic ben says:

    Just because their office specifically doesn’t have the power to change things, doesn’t mean they can’t lead the charge. Their offices actually give them the credibility they need to speak on behalf of Wilmington and NCC.

  11. pandora says:

    The message is only partly right – it needs to expand.

    One of the biggest frustrations in dealing with city schools and their problems is that the city’s voice is split between four districts. Advocates exist in every district, but whenever we’ve tried to unite we get split up again by the districts themselves (Oh, you have to deal with RCCD, or Christina, etc). Having a mayor speak could reunite those fractured voices and group them under one umbrella. (notice, I said could) So I’m willing to give it a try.

    And if you think the suburban population isn’t going to have a fit about this letter, and it was simply a throw-away, easy position to take, think again.

  12. Mike O. says:

    Let’s not get too far ahead of the letter. All the letter asked for was some detailed data on dropouts and attendance, and some assistance in getting it. That is more than enough for a start.

    I hope the districts hand it over – we are supposed to be data-driven now after all. It’s a shame the supers don’t have those reports and already have a team working on an analysis without being asked by other elected officials.

  13. pandora says:

    The Districts probably “don’t have those reports and already have a team working on an analysis” because they know what they’ll show. For years, districts have avoided what choice, NSA, and charters have created by playing dumb. What better way to stay dumb then by not generating reports.

    Last year, at a meeting at Highlands, District Administrators played dumb about issues facing their city schools. Their answer – form a committee and let them know what the problems were. This is the standard district response – you’re always starting over. And when you submit your committee’s report it goes nowhere, and when you bring up the subject again the response is – you guessed it – let’s form a committee.

    I have no idea what will, if anything, come of this letter. But if there’s a chance of something good coming out of this, I’m willing to try. Yeah, my hopes may be dashed again, but I have to try.

  14. cassandra_m says:

    It isn’t getting ahead of the letter to point out that they are looking at a couple of populist concerns which won’t get to the bigger picture. And if you aren’t looking at the larger picture you just relive one more self serving set of solutions that aren’t about the kids.

  15. Mike O. says:

    So far, the letter doesn’t seem “self-serving,” but time will tell.

  16. cassandra_m says:

    That’s good because I wasn’t referring to the letter.

  17. Dana Garrett says:

    I like the intention behind the letter of assisting in providing better and more equitable outcomes for public students in Wilmington. I also think that Mike is correct that this letter should be seen as an initial inquiry and, as so often with these kinds of studies, will be expanded and delimited in various ways as more information and questions are provided.

    Pandora, you are correct about the need to look at under-performing students. I suspect that the *initial* concern of these local governments is how joblessness is highly correlated with dropping out of school. Nevertheless, I hope the study adopts your concern as well.

  18. John Manifold says:

    There is a substantial body of opinion among mature black folks that in many respects, the old City district provided superior outcomes for City kids. As a graduate of a high school (P.S. du Pont) that did a pretty fair job in that era (class of 1972), who served with Howard and WHS graduates, the Mayor is among many in the City, who like their generational peers in the suburbs, is questioning why “identifiably black” schools are necessarily bad things – if they’re run right.

    Charter School of Wilmington was created, in part, to smash the last identifiably black high school. In turn, Charter became the place for high-income suburbanites to jam their kids, to the detriment of every other high school in New Castle County.

  19. Steve Newton says:

    My concern here is that the consultants are being asked to report on at least one of the wrong questions.

    Number of students being bused and ethnicity of those students–ok, relevant, and doable.

    Average amount of time on the bus–difficult to calculate and needs to be differentiated from the average length of time other students spend on the buses. For example, my (white middle class suburban) kids spent at least 45 minutes each way on the bus due to the serpentine nature of the bus routes through the developments. I think their route is above average in time (they are high school age), but let’s say the average is 35 minutes. Then it would stand to reason that what you are looking for in the Wilmington busing is the amount of time ABOVE the average for all students spent on the bus.

    That’s not the one that bothers me. The third question asks the consultants to hypothesize about changing district lines to send student to closer (presumably middle and high) schools. THAT is a computational problem that requires so much data and so many assumption that I would seriously doubt the answer would be meaningful.

    Example: a Christina middle school in city is actually closer to, say, 150 Red Clay students than AI Middle or HB DuPont. So if we posit changing the district lines to send them there, what happens to the 150 students already in that school that they displace? There’s an incredible ripple effect.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think this is a good inquiry to raise, but I think very strongly that it has to be done district by district instead of playing with district lines, because if it is not all that will happen is that CSD will get larger and poorer.

  20. mediawatch says:

    A lot of points to make here.
    Let’s get the negatives out of the way first:
    1. Several commenters have complained about the grammar/phrasing/punctuation of the letter. I agree that the sloppiness weakens initial credibility of the complaint.
    2. Maurice Pritchett may have been a well-regarded principal but what he’s being asked to take on here appears to be well beyond anything he has ever done as a consultant. And doing it properly would require a cost well in excess of whatever maximums the city and county have for no-bid contracts.
    Now, the motivations:
    3. Williams is a former cop who sometimes acts more like police chief than mayor. Gordon is a former police chief. Bottom line here is that it’s ultimately about crime, especially in the city. One thing they want to do is gather current statistics that will show a correlation between higher dropout rate among city students and higher crime rates in the city. Williams wants better schools in the city but has no way to accomplish this on his own. Linking dropouts to crime helps him build his case. Gordon and Williams are allies, and Gordon can win on this too because he probably has numbers on crimes committed in the suburbs by young (say, under 25) residents of the city. Because he’s got the rep as a tough cop, he’s got some cred if he argues that better city schools could mean less crime in the burbs. I’ve never had much respect for Gordon but this is one issue where can look good by not grandstanding to his white suburban base.
    4. Kudos to both for challenging the suburban superintendents and school board members who have done their best to carve up the city and turn it into a test tube for charter schools.
    5. The commenters who have mentioned that the real work that has to be done is at the elementary level are absolutely right. If the city kids have fallen too far behind their suburban peers by 4th-5th grade, it’s highly unlikely they will ever catch up. Sad to say, but no matter what is written about narrowing the achievement gap, most of the city kids in the upper two-thirds of the public school system are not going to catch up by the time they graduate (if they graduate at all).
    6. A big reason why Williams wants more and better schools in the city is so there’s a place in the neighborhoods for after-school programs that keep kids off the street and give them extra academic help. Putting such programs in place offers some rational hope for improving student achievement, keeping kids in school longer and out of trouble, and ultimately improving urban education levels and reducing crime rates.
    7. I’m not sure that the data Williams and Gordon are seeking is essential to proving what I believe their main point happens to be, and throwing the busing/choice/charter stew into the pot might move this discussion in a direction that will hurt their efforts to implement a “reduce dropouts, reduce crime” strategy. But I think both of them deserve credit for raising these issues, and I hope they can both continue and clarify the dialogue in a way that leads to more sensible educational programming and, of course, lower crime rates in the city.

  21. pandora says:

    Thanks Steve and mediawatch. Excellent points.

  22. John Young says:

    4. Kudos to both for challenging the suburban superintendents and school board members who have done their best to carve up the city and turn it into a test tube for charter schools.

    Um, the courts did the carving and supers and school board members have been left to manage the mess of those wise 1970s and 1990s court rulings ,and I don’t know one public school board members campaigning for unfettered charter growth, but the charter law and NSA passed by DE Legislators in the 90s and early 2000s are clearly the cause of your second concern.

    So wrong, and wrong.

  23. pandora says:

    The Districts have used that carving up to their advantage, John. They play the head count game, “Look at the low turn out at this meeting, everything we’re doing must be okay.” I’ve seen this played again and again.

    Just like Districts use the NSA and choice as excuses for inaction. Districts and school boards may not have made the laws, but some definitely use them to abdicate their responsibility to educate all children.

    They are part of the problem – not the whole problem, but they are definitely part of it.

  24. AGovenor says:

    Pandora, I think you should run for the Red Clay School Board. You will likely be the most informed board member.

    My concern about this letter is who will sit on this “Citizen Coalition”?

    If it is not comprised of thoughtful, well informed folk such as Pandora and Cassandra, I fear where the “Coalition” will lead us.

  25. Cobain says:

    Want to improve Wilmington Schools? Create a Wilmington School District that stretches from Hockessin and Greenville to the Northside and Eastside of Wilmington. The public schools will improve; the privates and charters will wave the white flag of surrender due to overcrowding; and poorer boys and girls in dead-end situations will start hooking up with rich boys and girls with opportunities. Either way problem solved…. I should be a consultant.

  26. mediawatch says:

    Before blaming the courts for everything, please recall that both the state board of ed and the local school boards that petitioned U.S. District Court to be relieved from the court order.
    And also note that, among the northern NCCo districts, it was only Brandywine that stood up to the folks who wanted to bring back the bad old days through the Neighborhood Schools Act and said, in essence, “our current attendance zones do give us neighborhood schools.”
    My point here, John, and Pandora picked up on it too, is that the districts, by and large, used relief from court supervision and passage of the NSA as a means of minimizing overall educational services within the city. As a result of those actions, those who have an interest in city children being educated in city schools have turned to charters as their best option. Some of those charters are performing well, some not, but the parents who choose the lower performing charters are saying, in essence, “if my kid’s going to get a crappy education, no reason to spend an hour and a half on the bus each day to get it.” Sort of like the folks in the suburbs who use NSA and choice to get shorter bus rides to presumably better schools for their kids.

  27. John young says:

    I’m not sure how to measure what you say there, Pandora. some undoubtedly true, some not so much. I can’t think of one time when I or members of our board hid behind the nsa or court order to specifically abdicate or responsibility to educate children.

    navigating the morass of idiocy coming from Dover,another post for another day

  28. John young says:

    media, my concern is we are going into a hearts and minds discussion, almost always unwinnable. court orders and laws what they are, is school board behavior ex post facto nefarious, utilitarian, or just incompetent?

  29. KiroysDelaware says:

    Just a heads up, as Red Clay added new schools and transformed Conrad into an all choice magnet school there was no review of impact on it’s state board of education approved Neighborhood Schools plan! The dynamics of that plan may have been altered! Also, the additions to A.I. High building to accommodate choice students while not adjusting school assignments of city kids being bused to Dickinson whereas as A I High is the closest district school undermines the spirit of NSA. Sure any student can fill out a choice application. But there is a clear disparity and intent to exude those students. Gordon and Williams are right about the one-way busing out of Wilmington as I’ve noted in the past.

    Gordon and Williams position is right on with the exception of handpicking a consultant, However, their fight for change needs to be in Dover and with legislation such as bringing 4 school district into Wilmington to perhaps two for starters and add a traditional high school and adequate middle school seats. Charter School of Wilmington is using so-called surplus space at the old Wilmington High. So is it really surplus when there is no traditional high school serving Wilmington students?

    Red Clay says they can’t add a traditional high school and middle school in Wilmington because it will cause resegregation! Damn they sure know how to play the race card to their advantage! NSA did cause a de facto segregated Wilmington and with so-called Choice the Wilmington community is choosing to be segregated! Well that’s what one former old school board member says! The reality is there is no Choice if you are poor and without reliable transportation and a Choice school system that provides none!

    Question of the day, do in-district Red Clay student attending all Choice Conrad and Cab get preferential transportation? Whereas others who Choice to out of feeder school must find transportation to a “bus-stop” within the school of Choice!

    But again, the fight belongs in Dover or perhaps back in the federal court! Time for talk and preaching to the choir is long over and legislative action is needed.

  30. geezer says:

    With all due respect, if misters Williams and Gordon want to get involved in education policy, they should run for the school board. This is grandstanding.

  31. socialistic ben says:

    that’s silly. Are you saying an elected offical can only focus on issues they have direct power over?

  32. KiroysDelaware says:

    Geezer, they don’t need to be board members but they do need to be careful if they are sell mayoral control over education within the city of Wilmington. They’ll fall on their face because they’ll give contracts to political bedfellows and community leaders who’ll keep their mouths shut.

    Much of the concern is within civil rights issues yet it seems the NAACP is near dead! The will come a day when a few good sisters step up and led the fight for real change!

    The answer to changes needed must come from Dover! The “letter” was addressed to all school district supers! The supers have zero power to effectively address these issues.

    They are grandstanding and perhaps they are sending a message they , “Gordon and William” are to be the change agents not Jea Street!

    No who is the voice of the people of Wilmington? Pastor D ? Oliver? The Twin poets? Bat Girl aka new police chief? This is where the problem is, no established voice of the “people” who are clueless sheep!

  33. geezer says:

    “Are you saying an elected offical can only focus on issues they have direct power over?”

    No, they can get involved in anything they want. And I can point out that it’s grandstanding.

    Last time I checked, they both had enough on their plates to keep them busy without taking on issues outside their purview.

    “This is where the problem is, no established voice of the “people” who are clueless sheep!”

    Which is exactly why a couple of “populists” have charged into the vacuum.

  34. Heather C says:

    What does it matter where these kids go to school or how long their bus ride is? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the REAL problem here is they have no rules once they step foot off that bus. They don’t have to go home and do their homework or study for a test. They don’t get quality sit down time with their parents at dinner to talk about their day at school. They aren’t getting the support from HOME. Why does everybody feel the need to beat around the bush here and blame it on the schools, teachers, white suburban families and anyone else but the parents of these children? Anyone can choice their kid to a different school but here’s the problem… you are responsible for the transportation if you do so. I know, because I choiced my child and drive him to school every day. As far as parents from the burbs being upset about their kids being bussed to the city… well duh, why would you actually work your butts off to live somewhere where you feel your children are safe to have them bussed into a city that is rated one of the top 10 crime cities? People, if you want your children to be successful, help them. Pay attention to them. Read with them. Do homework with them. Have dinner with them. Keep them off the streets. YOU are the ones in control of your children. Stop showing them that selling drugs and having guns is ok. They look up to you as their roll models. Set an example for them. Because in schools, no matter where they are located, (in the city or in the burbs) they teach the same stuff. The language they speak with words such as “ax” instead of “ask” is just an example of my point. Do you think the teachers in the city teach them that? I mean really. As far as the bussing, my husband had a 2 hour bus ride (each way) from Chichester to Sallies because he was the first one on in the morning and the last one off in the evening. He did just fine because he knew what was expected from him and had the involvement from his parents when he walked in that door. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t matter where you go to school. Structure, rules, expectations from the parents THAT is what is going to get the drop out percentage down. If they don’t care, why should the children. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel for these kids. It’s sad. You can look at the ones (even in the schools in the burbs) and you just know that they don’t stand a chance. Not because they’re dumb and don’t want to do good, but because they’re surrounded with ignorance at home. And as far as the teachers, their hands are tied. If they try to teach these kids respect they are accused of racial crap. So what do they do… They take away the no tolerance rule. Well you just gave them a free pass to act as they please because they won’t have to pay the consequence. Yea, that was a very intelligent move. Lastly, there ARE teachers in the suburbs that are probably worse than the teachers in the city. I personally know a family whose elementary aged students teacher (female) rip their sons shirt completely off of him in front of the class while the other children laughed. This poor child was mortified and did not want to return to school. The outcome of the situation… they moved the little boy to a different class (just last month) and NOTHING happened to the teacher. Imagine if it was a male teacher/female student!!! If the student had been black, the outcome would have been different because they could pull the whole racial card. So don’t think it’s all fine and dandy out here, outside the city, because things happen to white children that shouldn’t, and there are teachers that shouldn’t have their job. Have a nice day, and PLEASE help your children have confidence in themselves and in turn do well and stay in school.

  35. AGovernor says:

    Heather C have you read the other comments? Did you not see where Pandora points out the problems start in elementary school? In elementary school students are in city schools and when you are in a class where everyone comes from the same bad socioeconomic background the students fall behind their suburban counterparts. This problem becomes magnified in Middle and High School.

    The schools need to improve at all levels and ALL blame can not be put on parents. YOU may be able to transport your child to a choice school, but not EVERY parent, especially low income parents are able to do so.

    Williams and Gordon may not be addressing the most important issues but let us hope their inquiry leads to a broader discussion and more importantly CHANGE.

  36. Joe Friday says:

    ” As far as parents from the burbs being upset about their kids being bussed to the city… well duh, why would you actually work your butts off to live somewhere where you feel your children are safe to have them bussed into a city that is rated one of the top 10 crime cities? ”

    Did I miss something, is Padua and Ursuline closing?

  37. socialistic ben says:

    oh man. I wanted to agree with you, save for all the SES/racially-misinformed undertones. The people on this site control THEIR children, not other people’s kids. Im guessing Pandora, or anyone else here who has kids, aren’t the “problem parents” you’re talking about. A lot of kids in poor neighborhoods, like the ones you are talking about, don’t get that “quality sit down time” because their parents, or more statistically accurate, parent, works 2 jobs. Meaning that when the kinds get home, the people who would be telling them to do their homework, is busy making 7.25 an hour to keep the lights on. Not everyone has the opportunity to choice to a nice, white, suburban school.
    Here is the problem with parents. Soon, (probably already) people my age… the first group affected by NCLB, will have kids in grade school. We were not educated well, because we were taught how to pass an end of the year test, not taught anything useful. The parents of the new grade-schoolers dont have the skills to help them. You dont know what other people’s situation is, and it sounds like you think black kids go home and go to “drug selling class”

    also,
    “Not because they’re dumb and don’t want to do good, but because they’re surrounded with ignorance at home. ”
    I gotta ax…. how do you know? (and it’s “do well”)

  38. pandora says:

    Wow, Heather, don’t let me stop you from getting your stereotyping on. Somebody could stand some diversity in their life. You do realize that most city parents care for and love their kids – just like you, maybe more. Most aren’t drug addicts, most… forget it. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    And the fact that you own a car, probably two, and have the luxury of a schedule that allows you to drive your kids to and from school is your advantage. It gets tiresome to keep hearing people like Heather who only acknowledge their awesomeness not their advantages.

    Your comment, Heather, was not truthful. It was divisive and unfair, but I get that it makes you feel better… superior?

  39. Geezer says:

    “forget it. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    That response is why you can do all the work you want on this issue without ever getting anywhere.

    “It gets tiresome to keep hearing people like Heather who only acknowledge their awesomeness not their advantages.”

    I missed the part where she talked about her awesomeness.

    “I get that it makes you feel better… superior?”

    Really? And none of the other self-styled education experts here are posting their mostly unsupported contentions because they feel equal to everyone else? Give me a break.

  40. liberalgeek says:

    Geezer – at least several of the “self-styled education experts” that have posted here are able to look beyond their own direct experience to see issues from someone else’s POV, namely a disadvantaged city family.

    Heather’s screed was much less about solving problems than it was about her unawareness of her own situation, let alone the situation of others.

    In fact, when I read it, at first I thought that it was satire… But I know too many “Heathers” to dismiss it as such.

  41. Geezer says:

    “At least several of the “self-styled education experts” that have posted here are able to look beyond their own direct experience to see issues from someone else’s POV, namely a disadvantaged city family.”

    So what? I know a lot of Heathers, too, and that’s my point: The compassion contest that breaks out here whenever education comes up bears no relationship to what most parents think and feel. The thinking might be simplistic and wrong — but you’ll never convince anyone of that as long as your only reaction is, “Your thinking is simplistic and wrong. You should be as compassionate as we are and stop thinking about your own kids.”

    “Heather’s screed was much less about solving problems than it was about her unawareness of her own situation, let alone the situation of others.”

    IN what way is she unaware of her own situation? Because she failed to realize that poor people without cars are effectively shut out of school choice? She never said otherwise; y’all just jumped to your usual conclusion.

    You know what will never, ever push forward progressive ideas? Telling struggling middle-class people how good they have it compared with struggling lower-class people. If you are going to confine yourself to wooing compassionate voters, you’ll do even worse than the Tea Party.

    You don’t and apparently never will get it: Most people don’t vote to improve the lot of the poor and downtrodden. They vote to improve their own lot. Yet every time education comes up on this blog, all the self-styled experts tell the middle-class parents that their concerns are invalid, because there are poor kids who have it much worse. That’s true, and yet does nothing for that middle-class parent beyond alienating them from your cause.

  42. AGovenor says:

    Hey Joe Friday, good point about Urseline and Padua. No one is at Salesianum this week. Did Salesianum close?

    Oh, wait no, it is Easter Break.

  43. AGovenor says:

    Geezer, what makes you think the. “self styled experts ” are not themselves middle class parents interested in being confident sending their children to a neighborhood school is a good choice?

  44. occam says:

    If you are really interested in improving education in poorer areas all of you COULD support school choice reforms…think opportunity scholarships which would allow the parents of low-income and/or special needs students to attend a school of their choice which allows for healthy competition in education and also allows parents more control over how their children are educated. Think of the higher education model we have in this country, but at the K-12 level.

  45. SussexAnon says:

    Using the higher education example of this country only shows how foolish your proposal is, Occam.

  46. socialistic ben says:

    Occam, you mentioned competition in education… i saw that in an earlier comment as well. I disagree fundamentally that there should be competition in education. We should be thinking in terms of all children getting the same great education. at a k-12 level, the kids who “win” will be the ones from better SES.

  47. liberalgeek says:

    IN what way is she unaware of her own situation? Because she failed to realize that poor people without cars are effectively shut out of school choice?

    That’s a start.

    Anyone can choice their kid to a different school but here’s the problem… you are responsible for the transportation if you do so. I know, because I choiced my child and drive him to school every day.

    As far as the bussing, my husband had a 2 hour bus ride (each way) from Chichester to Sallies

    People, if you want your children to be successful, help them. Pay attention to them. Read with them. Do homework with them. Have dinner with them. Keep them off the streets. YOU are the ones in control of your children. Stop showing them that selling drugs and having guns is ok.

    Not because they’re dumb and don’t want to do good, but because they’re surrounded with ignorance at home.

    We are all struggling (the 1% have people read the blogs for them). But if your struggle is trying to coordinate soccer practice and a field hockey game in the same afternoon, you are on a very different level of struggle than a parent that is struggling to get from their morning job to their afternoon job using DART, let alone trying to schedule a stop at your kid’s school for a parent-teacher conference.

    If Heather is going to sit in judgment of these parents, I will return the favor.

  48. socialistic ben says:

    The big problem with parents is, too many sub-urban people beleive their kids go to school with black kids named Le-A (pronounced Ledasha)

  49. Mike O. says:

    You know, there’s a reason Williams and Gordon asked for data before launching into proposals or attacks.

    Their question isn’t nearly big enough or detailed enough, and needs more and better questions. But politically, dropout data and time on bus are numbers everyone can understand, and might catch public and media attention to give this story some legs in a way it never has before in recent memory. How many of us have posted anything on neighborhood schools since the Graves Road referendum?

    Sorry – “I don’t need to see data because I already know what it will show” is the worst possible answer. My opinion is hardly set in stone on this issue, but I’m personally prepared to be informed or have my mind changed by the data in unpredictable ways.

  50. AGovernor says:

    Mike O., I like your last statement.

    Data is good.

  51. Pencadermom says:

    Ben @ Heather “oh man. I wanted to agree with you, save for all the SES/racially-misinformed undertones”
    Oh man, I wanted to agree with you Ben, but then you said this ” Not everyone has the opportunity to choice to a nice, white, suburban school.” and this “The big problem with parents is, too many sub-urban people beleive their kids go to school with black kids named Le-A (pronounced Ledasha)”

    It makes me wonder what it is about you, (and others because I hear this a lot) that makes you think people base their school choice on race.

  52. V says:

    I tend to stay away from these school-based discussions because I have no children and people sometimes get REAL upset when people with no children tell people how to take care of theirs but I would like to say:

    I don’t think that people who choice or charter their kids out of “bad schools” are racist. I think SB was simplifying it a bit. I dont think it’s “oh my god my kid can’t go there because it’s full of black children.” I DO think it’s partially “my kid can’t go there because it’s full of poorly behaved/underperforming children and the school has a bad rep because of it.” And I think for a variety of nuanced reasons those “bad schools” show up in certain neighborhoods more than others. The parents do what they feel is best for their kids in the immediate short term and pull them out (as is totally their right), but that doesn’t help the kids that are still at the “bad school” and that school’s ability to reform itself/get funding.

    I always didn’t really understand why charters exploded instead of an effort to just fix the “bad schools” in the first place but that’s another converstaion entirely and like I said I have no dog in this fight.

  53. socialistic ben says:

    Penmom, I’ll gladly answer
    What made me think Heather bases her school choice on race was her comment. I know from personal experience she is not the only one with those misconceptions.

  54. pandora says:

    “Yet every time education comes up on this blog, all the self-styled experts tell the middle-class parents that their concerns are invalid, because there are poor kids who have it much worse. That’s true, and yet does nothing for that middle-class parent beyond alienating them from your cause.”

    No. Heather’s concerns are invalid because they aren’t true. She stereotyped an entire group of people – even created made-up scenarios where all these kids come from families who don’t eat dinner together, don’t help their kids with homework, where their parents sell/do drugs and have guns, toss their kids out on the street, don’t care as much as she does because they didn’t choice, etc. And she stereotyped them because that way she gets to discount them and their concerns. They aren’t worthy.

    Here’s another thing. Why is it when suburban parents fight for their kids they’re advocates, but when city parents do the same they’re agitators or troublemakers out to hurt the suburban parents? How in the world would I woo Heather over to my side, and why is it always people like me that have to do the wooing? – Oh yeah, because the status quo benefits her. And since that suits her she’ll never agree with my position. No matter how nice I am. And Heather’s vile comments didn’t deserve a thoughtful reply.

    I’ll never convince people like Heather to care about those less fortunate. She’s not convincible and way too invested in her stereotypes. That’s fine. She’s entitled to her opinions, but then don’t cry when people call out her lies. Lies are all Heather has. She likes them because it takes all responsibility off her shoulders. If city schools are struggling, blame the parents. (And, no, Heather doesn’t have to be responsible for anything, but she sure likes to place responsibility on others.)

    And I’ll point out I’ve never called for hurting suburban schools. I’ve called for giving city kids the same programs and opportunities in their schools as their suburban counterparts. For some reason, some, not all, suburbanites find that idea very frightening.

  55. Mike O. says:

    giving city kids the same programs and opportunities in their schools as their suburban counterparts. For some reason, some, not all, suburbanites find that idea very frightening.

    Aren’t city kids in many cases going to the exact same schools as their suburban counterparts? I am not as familiar with Christina, but for example, the new programs at Dickinson are certainly benefiting their city students as well, and there is still plenty of room for choicing in. FYI, it’s not just IB – Dickinson has attractive new programs across the board, and is becoming a real model for turnaround that comes from the bottom up rather than the top down.

    HB middle school is in one of the wealthiest parts of Delaware, and is probably what a lot of people picture when they think of a suburban school. Yet HB is around 50% low income and has a significant city feeder population. HB is not getting significant new programs like Dickinson, but the suburban and the city kids share the joys and pains alike.

    I realize those examples don’t address the inequity of outbound-only busing. What’s missing are new city schools with similar programs.

  56. pandora says:

    The main focus of my post was: “Our city elementary schools, most of which are ridiculously high poverty, are setting the educational course for our city kids – a course that isn’t feeding into AP, IB, the Cambridge Program or the Charter School of Wilmington.”

    Elementary schools. And what’s going on at Dickinson (which is great) is relatively new, and I’d wonder how many kids coming from city schools will qualify for entry into these new programs – or into programs like Cab or Conrad?

    And you know that RCCD middle and high schools don’t abide by the NSA due to the fact that there aren’t any middle or high schools in the city. (And I’m only advocating building them if we do so responsibly) Suburban Middle/High schools don’t have attendance zone circles drawn around them, so I’m not sure why you’re using these schools as examples.

    Are you saying… HB is high poverty so kids coming in from Shortlidge and North Star (just examples, not sure which school feeds where) start out on the same footing, that their K-5 education isn’t a factor? No, I don’t think that’s what you’re saying… what are you saying?

  57. John Kowalko says:

    In Christina District there is no longer any busing of suburban students into the city. None at all. The only busing that occurs (in Christina District)is for Wilmington high school students to Christiana, Glasgow or Newark and not Newark Charter since they reside outside the 5 mile radius. The “neighborhood schools law” requires that all children go to the school closest to their home.
    John Kowalko

  58. Heather C says:

    Ok, first of all, I must be an idiot because last time I checked Urseline and Padua were NOT public schools. And you don’t need me to pass judgement on what goes on in the city, the statistics don’t lie. It’s the way it is. And the parents are too busy at work to help their children? Funny, because the majority of them are collecting welfare, food stamps, and getting the best insurance there is to offer. I guess you also didn’t see where I said I feel for these kids? So that would mean I don’t only think about my families situation. In fact, I donated a dozen winter coats, hats and gloves to inner city children this year so how dare you criticize me. I volunteer at school and pay extra attention to the kids that are seeking it. And yes, they are usually inner city kids telling me how they don’t have a daddy, or how daddy is in jail. Again, telling it like it is. I am not rich, nor is my family perfect. I have a special needs child that requires a ton of attention. And as for your question on how I know what goes on in the city… well, I guess I should just say TRUST ME, I am very, very aware of what goes on in these homes on a daily basis. As far as loving their children, well I don’t know how anyone could not love their own child. I have sacrificed a lot for my children and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not racist in the least, you are just paranoid. Again, read the statistics. I understand that the truth hurts some of you. It will never change because even still, there are so many of you searching for someone else to blame for your lack of helping your children stay in school. It really is sad. As far as living in the city… MOVE!! There is section 8 everywhere. Don’t worry, my tax dollars got you covered. Also, if the judges kept the criminals in jail where they belong, they wouldn’t be producing more of these poor kids out there that are following in their parents footsteps. Just think, if the inner city kids had all the things I listed in my first post from their parents, this wouldn’t even be a conversation because if they were struggling, there parents would know it!!! Just keep on blaming everyone else. But don’t hate me because I care about my childrens education. Those are the FACTS!!!

  59. Heather C says:

    Oh, and AGovernor, so your saying some of our children should have to go into the city JUST to pick up the slack in Elementary school so the statistics even out? No thank you. Help your children. Help your children. Help your children!!! Bottom line!!!

  60. KilroysDelaware says:

    Pandora FYI, HB dynamics changed when Conrad middle school was changed from feeder to all choice 2007-2008. H.B. was one of the middle schools former Conrad feeder students was assigned to. in 2007-2008 HB had a poverty rate of 18.4% and African-American 4.0% and since this change H.B progressed to 2011-2012 to 43.5% low income and 30.4 African-American. The trend in these group declined at Conrad as they increased % in the newly assigned middle schools, In 2006-2007 year prior to the “new” Conrad the poverty level was 74% at Conrad. Red Clay’s turnaround plan was move at-risk students out and bring in higher performing students. But dispersed blocks of high poverty at-risk student to other district middle schools without intervention programs for the students and the newly assigned schools. Here again, Red Clay nor the state board of education performed an impact study to the effects this change would have on the approved NSA plan. Furthermore, it did increase longer bus ride for those students living closer to Conrad

  61. pandora says:

    You say this, Heather…

    “And the parents are too busy at work to help their children? Funny, because the majority of them are collecting welfare, food stamps, and getting the best insurance there is to offer.”

    and then say this…

    “I am not racist in the least”

    Now you’re just kidding around with us, right? Your posts aren’t serious, right?

  62. pandora says:

    Ah… thanks, Kilroy! I had forgotten about Conrad. That explains HB.

  63. Heather C says:

    Pandora, my concerns and so called made up scenarios are exactly the truth. I am educated very well on what takes place in the city. Believe it or not, I wish I was wrong. I would never post on something if I didn’t have the facts.

  64. pandora says:

    Please provide those facts. All of them.

  65. Heather C says:

    Pandora, since you obviously have trouble understanding things, I’ll say it again… facts and statistics don’t lie!!! That does not make me racist it makes me someone who understands the facts and statistics!! Is Mayor Baker racist for coming right out in his public speeches stating that the black folk are the problem? Or was he just stating the FACTS?? Wow, you really need a taste of reality. By the way, I have blacks in my family so BACK OFF with the whole race card because unlike the school districts that crap doesn’t work with me.

  66. Pencadermom says:

    John, in the eyes of a lot of parents, the ones I know anyway, the ‘charter explosion’ for us started because of busing into the city. I wouldn’t have started asking around about other choices if I wasn’t about to send my ten year old on a long bus ride into Wilmington to go to a school for two years and then another school for two year and then high school. Crazy, thank God that is over.
    John, just curious. Do you think the busing that does occur is ok? I wonder if anyone has ever asked the students how they feel about going to Glasgow, Newark, and Christiana.

    Heather, I couldn’t care less about a persons grammar but.. if you are going to say that people say ax when it should be ask, you probably shouldn’t, in your own writing, say ‘your’ when it should be ‘you’re’ and ‘there’ when it should be ‘their’.. just sayin

  67. pandora says:

    Oh, I’m understanding you just fine, Heather. Please provide the facts and statistics that prove your assertions that:

    1. They don’t have to go home and do their homework or study for a test.

    2. They don’t get quality sit down time with their parents at dinner to talk about their day at school.

    3. They aren’t getting the support from HOME.

    4. Stop showing them that selling drugs and having guns is ok.

    Go on. I’ll wait.

  68. Heather C says:

    Pencadermom:
    actually funny, however not even close to being the same thing.

  69. Pencadermom says:

    Heather if a kid is telling you their daddy is in jail, why don’t you want to help that kid? You started off by saying “what does it matter what school a kid goes to or how long their bus ride is” sounds like you are giving up on them. A good answer on busing and drop out rates might not be a magic solution, but it is a move in the right direction.

  70. Pencadermom says:

    Sorry, I thought it was the exact same thing. I guess I misunderstood your ‘ax’ comment. It’s not very educated to say, right? Well, to me, neither is the misuse of there and your. Everything is relative. Like to you good parenting and loving your kid includes sitting with them every day and asking about their day and making sure they have their homework complete. To someone else, good parenting and loving their kid might mean making sure they were able to find the spagettios they left for them, and trying to make sure they are involved in an after school activity to help them stay out of trouble while you’re at work.

  71. Heather C says:

    Drive up and down a couple streets in Wilmington. It will only take you a minute, and you will clearly get your own statistics and facts when you see all the young children running the streets with no adult in sight. Or, better yet, take a moment to ask the children. They will tell you themselves. Did you know that the early childhood school in th district is now responsible for providing tooth brushes and tooth paste AND the teachers are responsible for making sure their teeth are brushed? Do you not think that is ridiculous? Low income or not, you have to agree that is insane. I will say just because I have access to statistics and such, doesn’t mean that I am in any way a mean or close minded person. I wish I could buy coats for all children that need them. I do believe that all children should get the best education. BUT, they need to be around supportive parents that are there to help them where help is needed. That’s just not the way it is in the city. I wish my child was able to go to a Charter school but he’s not. Or a private school but he’s not. How about a school of religion… Nope. He doesn’t get any of those options but it is what it is. I don’t take it out on the people whose children do/can. I would do anything I could to help a child I don’t care if the color of their skin is purple. So next time don’t jump so fast to the conclusion that someone is racist or choices their kid to a school that is mainly white. I never stated that.

  72. pandora says:

    Hey, you were the one who said facts and statistics don’t lie. I simply asked you to prove your broad brush claims. You can’t.

    BTW, I live in the city. I drive up and down city streets every day. And while there are problems, driven mainly by poverty, I’m not willing to lump everyone under the heading of They because it isn’t even close to true. You are with lumping. Fine.

    How would you feel if a wealthy person questioned your parenting by saying, “If you really cared about your child’s education you would put them in private school,” or “a child’s education isn’t complete without several trips to Europe.” Because, you know, there are people who truly feel that way. I don’t, but there are a lot of people that do.

  73. Heather C says:

    Pencadermom:
    You must have missed the part where I said I go in and volunteer at school and give these kids the most attention. Where I have bought them coats, hats and gloves. And as a matter of fact, my son had spagettios for lunch today. However, I’m not sure a kid in Elementary school should be cooking them themselves or be home alone for that matter. Elementary kids is what we have been talking about in case you missed that too. As far as the 2 hour bus ride I mentioned, my husband did homework while on there. I do however, happen to agree with you. Its not fair to the children. Have a good night.

  74. geezer says:

    “Why is it when suburban parents fight for their kids they’re advocates, but when city parents do the same they’re agitators or troublemakers out to hurt the suburban parents?”

    I never said they were.

    But you know what your overload of compassion will never do? It will never overcome the actual incidents that most public school parents have had with our schools’ inability to deal with racial inequalities.

    You don’t want to waste time with Heather, and I understand. But that’s why you’re pissing up a rope. Unless and until you can convince the majority of people to do any of the things you propose, they will never get done.

    The sad part is that black parents feel their kids get the short end of the stick (and there’s plenty of data to back that up) and white parents feel exactly the same (and they have plenty of anecdotes to back that up). So everybody is dissatisfied, and the worst part is I can’t say they’re wrong — and neither can you.

  75. Heather C says:

    Pandora:
    Obviously, you live in the city. The way you protect it makes it obvious. You have more faith in the city becoming a better place than most. It’s a good thing. It’s not that I can’t provide you with info because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t due to rules/laws. I pretty much said what I wanted to in my last post to get you to understand that I am not some hateful person claiming to have the perfect life. I’ll leave it at that. Arguing with one another is just silly.

  76. V says:

    “It’s not that I can’t provide you with info because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t due to rules/laws.”

    What? Do you work with underprivileged inner city youth and have disclosure rules? Not trying to be snarky, just confused.

  77. pandora says:

    But you know what your overload of compassion will never do? It will never overcome the actual incidents that most public school parents have had with our schools’ inability to deal with racial inequalities.

    You don’t want to waste time with Heather, and I understand. But that’s why you’re pissing up a rope. Unless and until you can convince the majority of people to do any of the things you propose, they will never get done.

    I agree, Geezer, and I never expected change to happen by changing the minds of the majority, and even some in the minority. Unfortunately, this will probably head, once again, to the courts.

    There are two forces at work that seem to come down to… Those in the city that would like to have a city school district and those in the suburbs that agree with them. While their endgame is the same, their motivations are not.

    Both sides have people whose hearts are in the right places. The ones whose hearts aren’t in the right places are either envisioning a city district under their control with all the money lining their pockets (shudder) or a way to get those kids out of their schools.

    So everybody has an agenda, but not a real solution to the problem – which is poverty. A city school district cannot succeed unless the issue of poverty is addressed. Unfortunately, some in the city calling for this new district are focused more on the power and money headed their way. Some of those outside the city are kidding themselves, for while Red Clay and Brandywine’s test scores will probably increase I don’t see eliminating city students helping Christina.

    And those increasing test scores won’t be due to better education. It will be due to shifting high poverty kids out of certain schools. Kilroy pointed this out earlier. Conrad didn’t improve its population’s education. It simply moved its high poverty kids to other schools like HB. That isn’t success.

    So, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know what the problem is. It will be interesting to see what happens to McKean and AI if Dickinson’s IB program takes off. Hopefully, Red Clay has a plan in place.

  78. geezer says:

    “those increasing test scores won’t be due to better education.”

    Exactly. The best line I’ve ever heard about standardized testing: “It’s like trying to fatten your pig by weighing it a lot.”

  79. kavips says:

    Maybe it’s todays great weather opening up my filter a little wider, ahh, it is so nice after this winter, but your title so begs for the lyrics of a very old Joe Cocker tune…

    Oh ,The Lonely Days Are Gone
    I’m coming home
    My Baby Wrote Me A Letter…

  80. Albert S. Jackson Jr. says:

    There are people that don’t know Delaware was part of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Delaware had one high school for Black People for the entire state. Today Wilmington and New Castle County elected officials have bravely stepped forward to try and deal with this situation and that is a good thing. So let us not trash the teachers, politicians or anyone until we get to the pinch pin of the problem. This has been going on for to long to just sweep it under the short term rug. I personally feel that elected officials should meet with the Archdioceses of Wilmington to cut a deal for education for a new Wilmington school district. That is what I see and this could be the answer to all the problems. You can trash me if you like?

    Albert S. Jackson Jr.

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