No more excuses for our schools (Thomen)

There has been lots of talk about schools lately. All seem to acknowledge that some changes need to be made. However, I have seen very little analysis of specific reasons why the current system seems to be failing our children – particularly our minority children. Until there are commonly accepted reasons for our failing school system, there is no hope that any remedy will [fix the] shortcomings. Some facts.

1. “Busing” destroyed any semblance of a minority school system to which parents and students could “belong” and think of as being “ours.”

2. Busing wastes a significant part of the day for students that are being bused.

3. Several predominantly minority charter schools in downtown Wilmington are doing quite well.

4. Northern New Castle County school boards are dominated by members who are union-related. This does not bode well for keeping the interests of our children first and foremost.

5. Teacher pay is determined by education level (degrees) and time. These two criteria may or may not have anything to do with classroom performance. Until school principals are both allowed and required to evaluate teacher performance and this performance rating becomes pay determining, rewarding good performance and urging poor performers to seek alternative employment, neither teachers nor their supervisors [will] have economic incentives to continuously seek excellence.

Until basic problems are identified, articulated and accepted, no rearrangements without the system are likely to produce significant improvement in what our children are actually learning.

James R. Thomen

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