Gazette article racial percentages off

April 7, 2014

Your recent article on the student population in Sussex County left out some very important items. First, the racial statistics were incomplete; none added up to 100 percent. Only percentages of white and African-American students were shown; so other minorities are what, chopped liver? And how were mixed-race children counted?

Doing my own math from your chart, I find that if Sussex County’s student makeup is 57 percent white then it’s 43 percent minority, and Sussex Tech is 68 percent white, 32 percent minority. So Sussex Tech, at about one-third minority, is certainly approaching the average. Likewise, the charter school, which your chart appeared at first glance to show as 2 percent minority, is actually 13 percent minority, because you didn’t account for them all.

Such an article should have also stated what percent of minorities are applying to these schools; do we have those numbers, and how recent are they? I never see anything published about that, and we should know these things before we jump the gun at trying to fix the wrong problem, which I think Mr. Parks from the Seaford district is doing in trying to require particular racial makeup at schools that are outside his jurisdiction. Maybe the regular districts should learn something from the better-performing schools.

Instead of trying to blame the race of their students, they should take some new steps to make their own schools perform more highly. Look at what the other schools are actually doing instead of implying that the color of one’s skin accounts for how smart, or not, your students are!

Sussex Academy has already replied - they have openings, and if too many students apply, the applications are publicly drawn via lottery (their website also shows that), so the only issue I see there is why aren’t the minorities applying to go there? The school seems to be getting great results; the leaders among our minority communities should be running a drive to get their students to apply there.

There is a GPA requirement at Sussex Tech, and it’s closer to the racial average already, so maybe race isn’t the issue the partial statistics make it appear.

We needn’t spend a lot of money to find out why more minorities aren’t applying to these schools; I’m sure any local university must have students who could fulfil some class requirement by taking a scientific survey for us. I imagine the local schools would be as interested as I in what are the top three or four reasons.

Ms. Dolan’s comment in your article also bothers me. Why would she rather no more charter schools come to the county just because she doesn’t like the racial makeup of the one? That makes no sense. In addition to trying to get more minorities to apply to these alternative schools, perhaps we should try to get more charters that can show the rest of us how things should be done.

In New Castle County there are charter schools with high percentages of minorities that have either done very well for many years or have made great strides within the last few years. One high-performing school in Wilmington appears to proudly have an Afro-centric focus, judging by its website, and it also has a high percentage of students from low-income areas. Is there anyone out there who will work to develop schools like these in Sussex County?

Let’s take our noses out of what races people are, and concentrate instead on what really helps people learn. Society can only benefit.

Carol Warren

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