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Delaware Senate Democrats

Redding Consortium, Lawmakers, Community Leaders Call for Targeted, Educational Equity Funding in FY2022 Budget

February 5, 2021

WILMINGTON – The Redding Consortium for Educational Equity and its supporters on Friday called on the Governor and the General Assembly to fully fund a series of targeted initiatives focused on improving outcomes for students in some of Delaware’s highest-poverty schools.

“Decades of failed policies and half-hearted reforms have created more high-poverty, racially identifiable schools than ever before, where generations of students from Wilmington and northern New Castle County have and continue to receive an inequitable education,” said Redding Consortium co-chair Sen. Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington.

“Delaware is only now beginning to undertake efforts that will direct more school funding to the students who need it most,” she said. “The Redding Consortium believes we owe it to our children to take more urgent and impactful action now to infuse additional resources into the programs that most effectively support students with the greatest need and to lay the groundwork for deeper, systemic reforms in the near future.”

Joined by more than a dozen elected officials and community supporters, Lockman and members of the Redding Consortium urged the Governor and the Legislature to support the Consortium’s interim recommendations and incorporate them into next year’s state budget.

Released in December, Redding’s recommendations represent a focused plan for addressing the extraordinary barriers of race and poverty faced by students that contribute to disparities in reading and math achievement, attendance rates, treatment of developmental delays, hiring qualified teachers and more. Targeted towards students in Wilmington and New Castle County, as is the Consortium’s mandate, the recommended investments have implications for underserved students throughout the state.

Each of the proposals was developed by the Redding Consortium’s working groups through months of public meetings with hundreds of educators, parents, lawmakers, and community members.

The recommendations include:

  • Focused services for children from birth through age 5: $8.8 million
    • Expand home visitation programs targeted to mothers, infants and toddlers living below the poverty line;
    • Support the Department of Education’s efforts to ensure developmental screenings are taking place at state-licensed childcare facilities;
    • Provide free, high-quality, full-day Pre-K services to 3- and 4-year-olds in areas with the state’s highest concentrations of poverty;
  • Greater access to before-school programs, after-school programs, summer programs and school-based health centers: $2 million per school
    • Implement comprehensive wraparound services outside of the normal school day for students with the highest poverty levels;
    • Establish school-based health centers in each school where other wraparound services are offered and make them available to families and community members;
  • Enhance data collection to better address race-related inequities: $2 million
    • Collect and present data in a user-friendly way to assist schools and families in making informed decisions related to academic performance, availability of clubs and activities, enrollment, school discipline and more, while also providing an opportunity to collect input from students, parents, educators and community members;
  • Improve teacher recruitment and retention: $1.3 million plus $4,000 per scholarship
    • Expand the teacher academy programs to improve the hiring and retention of educators who mirror the demographics in our high-needs schools, better communicate the availability of those academies, and provide scholarships for education professionals, community members, parents and others to participate;
    • Create a whole-school professional development learning package in five high-needs schools in the City of Wilmington.

“The Redding Consortium is addressing Delaware’s decades of early childhood inequity head-on,” said Dawn Alexander, the preschool expansion coordinator at Colonial School District. “We recommend Early Childhood governance consolidation and alignment measures, as well as drastically needed funding increases, to implement and sustain accountability and high-quality service provision policies and practices that will significantly reduce or eliminate the barriers caused by race and poverty.”

“As a parent and educator in Wilmington, I have witnessed the disparity in resources which is directly tied to outcomes. There is no doubt that the pandemic has compounded these challenges,” said Tika Hartsock, a Brandywine School District parent and Redding Consortium member. “By merely adding a 2% increase to the state’s total expenditure for early childhood and K-12 education, we can increase the upward trajectory for these children. Now is the time to invest. As the First State, we should be the leaders in putting children first. I believe the interim recommendations that we put forth for the FY22 budget will do just that!”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said the Rev. Shanika Perry, a member of the Brandywine School Board. “For the past few decades, Delaware’s education system has remained in a perpetual state of psychosis – a new approach to education, meetings to discuss best practices, mediocre implementation, severely underfunding of said program equating to poor-to-mediocre results. It’s time we exit this malignant cycle. Our children deserve better.”

“We have to address the trauma and challenges that our children are facing,” said Wilmington City Councilmember Shané Darby. “This is about our future. Our approach must be multi-disciplinary and centered on the needs and desires of each family. As a mother, councilwoman, founder of Black Mothers in Power, mental health counselor, I am urging the Governor to please consider these recommendations for potentially a healthier and thriving community, which is beneficial to our state as a whole.”

“As chair of the Vision Coalition in Delaware, a group that developed Student Success 2025, I believe the interim recommendations put forward by the Redding Consortium would make progress toward that vision,” said Gary Stockbridge, president of Delmarva Power. “We also see the benefit of acting with urgency through these targeted and focused efforts. The academic disparities that exist in Wilmington and communities throughout our state are morally and economically untenable and we look forward to partnering with the Consortium to address them.”

“The Redding Consortium has brought together educators, parents, students and other stakeholders to advance educational equity, not only for students in Wilmington and New Castle County, but statewide,” said Rep. Nnamdi Chukwoucha, D-Wilmington. “Over the last year, the Consortium has worked to create recommendations that will guide systematic change and improve the educational outcomes for high-needs students. It has been a great privilege to co-chair the governance and finance subcommittee, and I look forward to our continued efforts to collaborate and improve funding for our districts.”

“I am grateful that our Delaware Legislative Black Caucus colleagues Sen. Elizabeth Lockman and Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha are working with members of the General Assembly and the broader community to create equity and equality for Our Children in the City of Wilmington and Northern New Castle County through the Redding Consortium,” said Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, D-Wilmington. “This comprehensive plan will raise the consciousness of the importance of leveling the educational playing field for all children.”

“As co-chair of the Redding Consortium’s Educator Work Group, it has been my priority to focus on how to retain and recruit quality educators in Delaware. It’s really pretty simple. There is nothing political about this goal,” said Rep. Michael Smith, R-Pike Creek Valley. “Our educators deserve the opportunity to grow and thrive in Delaware. Our students are the future for Delaware. By making sure our teachers have the resources they need in an environment where they feel supported by their administration, students – especially those in high-poverty schools – will succeed.”

“The already steep barriers of race and poverty faced by students in our city schools are only getting worse as a result of this pandemic,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark. “The need is there. The funds are there. And now, finally, the political will is there to address these issues head on in a comprehensive and sustained way. Thank you to the Redding Consortium for leading the way and, hopefully, providing a model for how we fund high-poverty schools in Kent and Sussex counties, as well.”

“As Sen. Lockman frequently and inspirationally reminds us, the governor’s recommended budget sets the floor and not the ceiling for our investments in students most in need of support,” said Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark/Bear. “With these proposals, she and the Redding Consortium are raising the bar for what we can, and must, do this year to address the racial inequities that have been allowed to continue in our public schools for far too long.”

“Substantive and positive change in education cannot be goals we just talk about on the campaign trail or in committee hearings. We must act,” said Sen. Ernesto Lopez, R-Lewes, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “Today, the student-centered supports for which we are advocating, along with the financial investments needed to sustain them, will be acceleration lanes for successful outcomes and a road map to navigate future meaningful efforts throughout our state.”

“The work of the Redding Consortium is a key component of the effort to make real, lasting change that fulfils the promise of an equitable education for all Delaware students,” said Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, chair of the House Education Committee and a member of the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee. “I commend the Consortium co-chairs Sen. Lockman and Matt Denn, as well as all the community stakeholders and educational professionals who contributed to these interim recommendations, and I look forward to working with them to advance these priorities in Dover.”

“As a retired public school teacher, I have seen firsthand how students of all backgrounds are able to thrive when they have the proper support and their schools have adequate funding,” said Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Hockessin, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Joint Finance Committee. “I became a state Senator to make sure our state is meeting those needs and I am committed to sponsoring legislation that will bring the Redding Consortium’s recommendations into reality.”

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