this is the first part of a four-part series called "Fed Up With Government-Run Education".
This past October Governor Markell, while promoting his "Priority Schools" plan, was quoted by The News Journal as saying, "At some point... Im not going to, on behalf of these kids, allow the status quo to continue."
Governor Markell joins the more than 50% of Delawareans who in a recent Friedman Foundation survey say K-12 education has gotten off on the wrong track, the more than 50% who rank the quality of Delawares public education system as “fair” or “poor”, the 84% who rate local private schools an “A” or “B”, and the overwhelming majority of parents who prefer private schools to sending their children to the local public school (given the choice).2
Delaware has failed children, families, and communities; and they are clearly fed up with the government-run education system currently being offered. An under-performing public system the majority are compelled to use and their children are stigmatized for attending.
The results of the recent survey reflect the clear statewide pattern of dissatisfaction with government-run education and the preference for more educational choices. A 2007 survey found similar results.3 The Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) conducted their own public opinion research poll to determine attitudes toward public charter schools; they found that 59% of Delaware adults rated public schools as either fair or poor and 58% of parents would choose either a secular private or religious schools for their children if they could afford the cost. Even the DSEAs own poll shows a lack of confidence in the way Delawares public schools are run.
While there is plenty of blame to go around, one of the most significant and controllable contributor is state policy and regulation. This is because policy regulations come in with a political mindset more in touch with special interest groups than realities in classrooms and neighborhoods. Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, captured the essence of local dissatisfaction when he said, “I will not tie this city’s future to the dysfunction in Washington and Springfield .”
(substitute Dover for Springfield and you get the idea)
Delaware’s education is tied to government solutions. Under the guise of reform, the Markell Administration promotes policies_OLD which simultaneously keep control of education in the hands of regulators and also perpetuate the failure of the public system.
The dangers of mismanaged government-run education have greatly increased in the last decade. Government-run education expanded its authority to force unification of all types of students into one system (a control no one person or institution should have over your children), less local autonomy, continuing social dependency, more spending demands, and stifle creativity and sharing of innovation across educational institutions.
There are threats to all families regardless of ethnicity or income level however low income, Blacks and Hispanics are particularly hard hit. Immediate and long-term effects include high school and college dropouts, chronic unemployment, not accepted by the college of choice, high cost of all learning including advanced education, and local social and economic issues.4
The day to day need of the local classroom cant wait for decisions to come down from the federal and state government Departments of Education. Researchers Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley wrote, “The federal and state governments are organized as a collection of hardened silos, fragmented executive agencies overseen by separate legislative committees. These agencies look down at challenges, confirming and confining the reach of solutions to the powers and resources at hand.” 5
The education system you want for your children will only come about with a sustained effort on your part cooperating with families in your neighborhood and working with local educational institutions and community leaders to provide the quality education your community needs for prosperity.
The causes of failures are know. Spending, an attitude of government knows best, and lack of transparency have contributed to the ongoing failure of Delaware public schools. What we need instead is reform which broadens opportunity and promotes innovation.
Senior Policy Advisor
Caesar Rodney Institute
1 The News Journal – DelawareOnLine, October 2014, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/10/14/markell-pushes-schools-plan-ud-speech/17281909/
2 Paul DiPerna, “Delaware K-12 & School Choice Survey, What Do Voters Say About K-12 Education”, October 2014, http://www.edchoice.org/Research/Reports/Delaware-K-12-and-School-Choice-Survey.aspx
3 Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) and Belden Russonello & Stewart survey, “Fix the Schools We Have First, Delawareans consider the expansion of charter schools”, December 2007.
4 Jim Hosley, Caesar Rodney Institute, November 2014
5 Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, “The Metropolitan Revolution, How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy”