Status quo must go in Milton elementaries

May 21, 2013

Has the Cape Henlopen school board done an about face?

Two weeks ago, Superintendent Bob Fulton told the board it was time to address the significant racial and economic imbalance at Milton’s two elementary schools. After years of ignoring the problem, the board appeared ready to act.

Fulton’s plan would re­align Milton’s two elementaries, with students in K-two attending H.O. Brittingham, and stu­dents in grades three to five attending Milton Elementary School. This plan was debated 10 years ago and again in 2008. Both times, high expectations led nowhere, and a board that so recently appeared ready for change now appears to be wavering.

Parents at a recent school board meeting say the imbalance is a perceived problem, but the numbers tell a dif­ferent story. Milton Elementary School’s pop­ulation is 28 percent minority or multiracial; at HOB, the percentage is more than doubled – 59 percent minority or multiracial. At Mil­ton, 41 percent of students are considered low income; at HOB that number is a startling 77 percent, higher than any other district school.

HOB students are meeting goals on state­wide tests. Their teachers are dedicated and capable, and so are the students. But when three of four students are low income, HOB students don’t have the means to raise money for new equipment and technology. Over the years, the differences at the two schools have become glaring. History has repeatedly shown that separate but equal is never equal; nearly 50 years ago, Delaware ended the system of segregated schools.

Yet in Milton, at virtu­ally side-by-side elementary schools, enroll­ment remains largely segregated and highly imbalanced economically. Fulton has already proposed a solution; other ideas – including a single, new elementary school large enough to contain all the students from both Milton and H.O. Brittingham – should also be considered.

Another meeting is being held to seek com­munity input on plans for Cape’s elementary schools: 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 21, at Mariner Middle School. At the last board meeting, parents and teachers from Milton elementary demanded the board maintain the status quo.

At the next meeting, it’s time for everyone who cares about Cape schools to take a stand.

The status quo must go. Cape will never be the great district it should be without equal opportunities for all Cape students.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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