‘We need help’: education advocates state case for more equity funding in state budget
The Redding Consortium for Educational Equity is calling for its funding proposals to be recognized in the upcoming state budget.
The consortium released its interim report early this year, outlining funding aimed at improving outcomes for the state’s neediest students, particularly in Wilmington.
Those recommendations, and estimated costs, include:
Expanding intensive home visitation programs targeted at mothers, infants and toddlers living below the poverty line in Wilmington, $600,000.
Funding for the state Department of Education to require and enforce developmental screening requirements in state-licensed child-care facilities, $180,000.
Providing high-quality, full-day prekindergarten services for 3- and 4-year-olds in the state’s highest poverty areas, $8 million.
Creating a “whole school professional learning package” in five high-need schools in Wilmington, $1.2 million.
Implementing comprehensive wraparound services, including before- and after-school and summer programs, plus school-based health centers at two to 10 schools in high-poverty areas, for $1.5 million per school for operations, plus $500,000 in one-time capital costs to set up the health centers. The first-year cost would be $4 million for two schools, or $20 million for 10 schools.
Developing a data collection system to better address race-related school inequalities, to help determine needs and monitor progress, $2 million for the first year and lesser amounts in the future
Beginning a “Grow Our Own” program to create a pipeline of future teachers for high-need schools, starting with a $100,000 allocation to publicize current initiatives, plus up to $4,000 per person in scholarships for participants in the programs.
Now, ahead of the Joint Finance Committee’s public education hearing later this month, the group is pushing for changes to the governor’s recommended budget to make room for the equity improvements.
Terrance Newton is the principal of Warner Elementary School in Wilmington. He says he’s begging the state for more help in education.
“I seen a lot of my friends that was failed by the system, the system let them down and just not supporting our kids as what they need to be successful," Newton said. "And it’s sad, it’s hurtful, it’s tear dropping. I feel like I'm in a battle by myself and not getting any support.”
Some of the advocates highlighted the Redding Consortium as just the beginning, and many of the problems in Wilmington are also problems statewide.
Wilmington City Councilperson Shané Darby specifically seeks to address the devastating effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
“Nationally, statewide and here for our City of Wilmington we have children in our city who are face with toxic stress, the trauma of poverty, racism, homelessness, sexual and physical abuse, gun violence, incarceration, death of a parent which really has a negative effect on the brain," said Darby.
Darby says early childhood intervention programs, such as home visitation proposed in the report can help improve outcomes among minority communities and people living in poverty.
Some other advocates say improving education equity isn’t just good for the children, but it builds a more competent and skilled workforce, and can attract more businesses to Delaware.
The Redding Consortium takes its proposals to the Joint Finance Committee as they prepare the budget for next year.
Both chairs of the House and Senate Education committees and the co-chair of the Redding Consortium are on the Joint Finance Committee, and plan to advocate for this funding in the budget.
Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.