There are times when I wish I were under 30 again, and not just for the reasons all of us are likely to mention. Back in the day, I was a full-time education reporter, and Delaware’s public schools were experiencing the trauma associated with court-ordered school desegregation. The Delaware State Education Association was also on the rise — even calling a statewide teacher strike over pay issues. During the early days of desegregation, New Castle County teachers called a strike over equalization of pay — “leveling up” salaries for all teachers to match the higher salaries Wilmington teachers had been receiving before desegregation began. The walkout lasted a month … and Delaware hasn’t had a teacher strike since.
The issues were huge, the stakes were high — those were exciting times to write about education.
The issues facing Delaware schools today are just as critical as they were a generation ago. They are also more numerous and, hard to believe, more complex. Many of them are rooted in Delaware’s history of school segregation. We’re in the midst of controversies about transforming low-performing “priority schools” in Wilmington, parents wanting to opt out of a new statewide testing program for their children, the closure of two charter schools, and discussion, prompted largely by the priority schools debate, about redrawing district and attendance zone lines in Wilmington and overhauling the state’s school finance system. It’s a good time to be an education reporter.
When possible, I get to explore some of these big issues for Delaware Public Media/WDDE-FM (91.1). My goal, whenever I write, is to convert confusion into clarity. My latest effort takes a look at the state’s ongoing efforts to oversee charter schools. I encourage you to take a look, and to listen to the radio conversation linked to the page. Let me know what you think, and don’t be bashful about offering suggestions for future articles.