Strengthening Wilmington Education: An Action Agenda

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We have now published another report on Wilmington education. It’s good. The historical framing, the acknowledgment of race, class, and geography as compounding forces, the impact on children, the costs of continued inertia, the recommendations for immediate action, the call for comprehensive planning—it’s all here. This report addresses what is now three generations of a largely failed experiment for children who could least afford it. The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision centered on achieving equity for a young Delaware girl, Shirley Bulah of Hockessin, Delaware. The Bulah family knew that Shirley deserved better than the education she was receiving at Hockessin Colored School 107 (c), a one-room schoolhouse with outdated, hand-me-down books that had an inferior curriculum compared to schools that her white peers attended; no transportation support; and a teacher who could rely on very little professional supports other than what he or she had learned in what was likely an equally segregated and under-resourced college. In cases brought by the Bulah family and the Belton family of Claymont, Attorney Louis L. Redding and Delaware Chancery Court Judge Collins Seitz challenged the segregation that sustained this inequity. The Delaware cases were the only ones included in the historic Brown decision where the lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and as such, set the precedent for the court’s actions. While the segregation of schools was struck down in public law 60 years ago, the inequality of educational opportunity has persisted for three generations of students who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of these historic rulings. This is not what Chancellor Seitz, Attorney Redding, or the U.S. Supreme Court intended
education, Wilmington, Delaware