What is the motive?

April 5, 2014

I've been trying my best to stay out of this fiasco, but the amount of mis and disinformation that is spreading surrounding Sussex Technical High School is becoming insurmountable. I want to take this time and space to iron out the wrinkles, if you will, surrounding the school district. If you can't handle the brazen side of me, please don't continue.

First, let me get this out of the way. I am now 22, I graduated from Sussex Tech in 2011 and am currently enrolled in the third year of my bachelor's program at Wilmington University as well as my first year of my associate's program at a local theology school. I also happen to be Black or African-American, whichever floats your boat.

The "why" behind me including all of the above will come to fruition if you've read the article, "Cape board calls for diversity at charter and vo-tech schools." Please read that first, if you haven't.

Now, I have one question: Cape, Seaford, and Christina (why you aren't going after Hodgson's or Poly Tech and coming all the way down to "Lower Slower" as some NCCo people call us is beyond me). When did your school district become so perfect that you feel as if you have nothing left to improve upon, that you have found the extra time in your oh so busy schedules to sit down and devise a plan to further smear the reputation of a school district that is seemingly more desirable to attend than your own? Please answer that for me... because I haven't a clue as to why after all of the prior attacks on Sussex Tech, that we have now resorted to basically calling a district racist by implying that they cherry pick white students.

Fact: Sussex Tech does not cherry pick anyone from anywhere. If you need proof of that, look at me. I was not Sussex Tech material. I know that came from Seaford, but Cape, you should know that, as I passed up your promise of a flashy new school for a better educational environment. The only requirement that Sussex Tech has when it comes to admissions eligibility is that you need to be passing your current grade level. Hmm... isn't that a novel approach? And that requirement excludes less than 1 percent of the total applicants.

Also, the selection process is monitored by the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights. I think if Tech was picking only the white students, they would know about that. The lottery system is computerized and it helps to reflect the county. Also, the population there is diverse. Trust me, I went there for four years, I know. Students and their parents make the decision to send their children to this school, a good decision I might add, and unfortunately, not everyone can get in. Sussex Tech is about to enroll it's largest freshman class... they're trying!

Fact: There are an estimated 115 special education students at Sussex Tech, 156 less than Cape High. Cape High's African-American percentage is 17 percent (I had to calculate this myself because they are giving you county wide percentages in the article and didn't attempt to provide their own statistics), the same as Tech's. Cape High's White population is 68 percent, again, same as Tech's if you don't count the decimal.

I could go on. You're asking a high school to mirror the ethnic population of a whole county full of districts comprised of K-12 grade levels while being fed students from the whole county, it's just not going to happen as perfectly as you hope. Seaford is close, 36 percent of 771 high school students are White whereas 38 percent are Black. It also has 20 more black high school students than white students; should we claim they need to enroll more white students?

Fact: Sussex Tech receives no other funding that other districts in the area are not also eligible for.

Fact: Sussex Tech is now asking for a tax cap increase for operational costs only, for the second time since its induction in 1991. How many increases have we seen in other districts during that time-frame?

Fact: This is for those that think Sussex Tech should have stayed a part time vocational school or that it should go back to being such. Sussex Vo-Tech, from 1961 until 1991 did just that. They had part time students bused in from seven school districts to learn a trade. After 20 years of doing so, it became apparent that it wasn't working. Enrollment was down 50 percent in a 10-year span. Teachers laid off because they weren't needed. And something I keep saying is that those students didn't meet academic requirements to make it in their career areas. There were scheduling issues. Miscommunication between what businesses wanted out of their employees and what the vocational education was providing. All because of this, Sussex Vo-Tech was in danger of closure.

Then, in the latter part of the '80s, a group of administrators, staff members, business representatives and industry professionals (about 30 people) met to reform that school into what it is today. And that school today is achieving high levels of academic and technical or vocational skills. Students are equipped for college or a direct career path with certifications in their areas. What could be better than that? Maybe this is the motive.

Let's talk about the money. For your information, every property owner in the county that is paying property and school taxes is paying for both their district and Sussex Tech. For example, if you lived in the Cape District, in which I do, and I see our tax bill every year, out of your total tax bill, 81 percent goes to Cape, 6 percent goes to Sussex Tech, and 12 percent to county taxes. So let's say your property tax bill was $500 last year. You paid $404 to Cape, $35 to Sussex Tech, and $60 to the county. (rounded numbers) And for those that don't have children, which of the districts is 'robbing' you the most? Woodbridge, Milford, Seaford, Laurel and Indian River all follow suit with plus or minus 2-3 percent variation.

Here's another little nugget, if you live in the Cape district and your child goes to Sussex Tech, Cape still gets your money. So for those that are saying that Sussex Tech is stealing Cape's tax dollars, that's simply not true.

There's the truth. The claim that Sussex Tech is purposely segregating the schools is a lie. Sorry Mr. Parks, but it simply is a flat out lie. It is not Sussex Tech's fault your test scores lag behind other schools. I don't want a world where Affirmative Action overrides individual ability. If your kid is failing their current school, a school has to accept that child simply because of the color of their skin? How is that remotely fair? How many Black, Latino (are they even visible to you all? Because I see no mention of them anywhere), and other races that are eligible for consideration apply to Sussex Tech, and don't get in compared to their White counterparts? Have you bothered to ask that question before you considered branding a school like this because it's, at the most, 11 percentage points away from the county average?

Here is a simple solution. Let's get rid of all of the other districts in this county and just have Sussex Tech, because obviously, at least one school is doing what they're supposed to be doing instead of going around telling other schools what they aren't doing.

I am appalled that this is the way this 'conversation' is going. As a product of both Cape and Tech, I can say that had I not applied and attended Sussex Tech, I would not have graduated high school. I grew and flourished at Sussex Tech, in a way that I knew I wouldn't at Cape High. Every morning when I wake up and walk next to my diploma and technical certificate and other certifications (and next year adding two degrees) on that wall, I feel like I've accomplished something and I am thankful every day, to God, my grandmother who invested the last 19 years of her life into me, my grandfather who supported our family for 40-plus years and to Sussex Tech as well as the wonderful teachers and staff there that put in the work every single day to educate these young minds and have to put up with the degradation every day from failing school districts that have nothing better to do with their time and then aren't allowed to stand up and say what I'm saying in this letter and are expected to just sit and take it. It's sad! It's simply sad!

Let's get back to the basics and that is educating our, well, your children. And the fact that the argument is that Sussex Tech is picking the creme of the crop, what are you saying to your students? That they aren't good enough to pay attention to so you have to go after the other schools?

Cape, I'm so tired of saying this, fix what's broken over there and leave Sussex Tech alone! The next headline I want to see is, "Cape board actually spends a moment looking in the mirror and repairs their educational atmosphere and reputation in the community." Do something productive. Please.

Tighmir I. Sayles

  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

    To submit a letter to the editor for publishing, send an email to Letters must be signed and include a telephone number for verification. Please keep letters to 650 words or fewer.  We reserve the right to edit for content and length.

Welcome to The Cape Gazette Archive.
This content is provided free of charge
thanks to our sponsor:

Close ad in...

Close Ad