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A long-awaited assessment of Delaware’s education system could result in a push for significant reform.
At the core of the more than 200-page report is a bold proposal to add $500 million to $1 billion in funding into Delaware schools.
The report is the result of the 2020 settlement of a lawsuit that was originally filed in 2018. The suit accused the state of being complicit in the disparities experienced by students from families with low income, students with disabilities, or students who are English language learners.
The settlement between the state, the Delaware NAACP, and others paved the way for the report to offer recommendations for improvement and to address enduring issues, especially those connected to educational equity.
Those recommendations include the following measures:
Increase state investment in public education
Distribute more resources according to student needs
Improve funding transparency
Allow more flexibility in how districts use resources
Regularly reassess property values
Simplify the calculation of the local share provided to charter schools
Implement a weighted student funding state funding formula
Dwayne Bensing, ACLU of Delaware’s legal director, was surprised by how often the report from the American Institutes of Research emphasized that Delaware is not meeting students’ needs.
“What [was] most shocking to me was how many times AIR said that Delaware’s education system was not adequate, that we were not meeting the needs of our students,” he said. “The report really demonstrates the funding structure that we’ve adapted since the beginning of time really isn’t serving our students in the 21st century.”
“We have this really outdated funding structure that doesn’t really properly quantify the amount of resources that are needed to educate some of our most disadvantaged students, particularly those coming from low-income households, those who are English language learners, and also students who have certain sets of disabilities,” he added.