By Ted Kittila
Candidate for the 4th Senate District
Over the past several months, my team and I have knocked on thousands of doors in Senate District 4, and the topic that comes up again and again is Delaware’s schools: why are our schools failing? And what can you do about it? I have made a key issue in my run for State Senate our schools: “Our Children Deserve a World-Class Education.”
First, are our schools failing? Sadly, yes. A recent study by Delaware’s Department of Education shows that 70% of our children are failing in math, and 58% are failing in reading and writing. For those that say that this is the result of COVID, I can say that it is not. While the pandemic hurt our children, unfortunately, these trends have been developing over the years.
What can be done? Delaware is operating under a faulty funding formula. This formula – which is 80 years old – has stripped schools of local control, making innovation in the classroom extraordinarily difficult. Big Education has discouraged change. While progress has been made with Charter Schools in Delaware, this too has faced opposition: a recent effort was made by Democrats to place a moratorium on Charter Schools. Despite shining examples of success in Charter Schools – including Wilmington Charter and the Delaware Military Academy – the opposition has dragged out tired arguments seeking to stifle this innovation.
My opponent is a former school teacher; however, in the last four years, her progress on fixing the core problems in Delaware’s education system has been lackluster at best. We had a $2.9 billion surplus over the last 2 years in Delaware; however, the choice was made to not fund mental health support for Delaware’s High Schools and Charter Schools. Where I have voiced support for a strong partnership between parents and teachers to encourage parental “buy-in” – a key factor in the success of our children’s education, my opponent has decried this as a key reason to vote against me. Moreover, while the funding formula remains a central problem in our schools, my opponent did not roll up her sleeves and begin the work to change the system. Why would she? She’s part of Big Education.
I’m the product of the Delaware public school system, from Kindergarten through the University of Delaware. I believe that I received a world-class education from teachers that took risks to adopt innovative ways to teach me. My teachers worked hand-in-hand with my parents to make sure that I had opportunities. My parents were part of the disciplinary and mentoring structure. Parents want to be involved, they want schools to succeed, and they want to ally with teachers to improve learning for all children.
My campaign’s motto is very simple: “We can do better.” We can do better for our children, and give them the world-class education that they deserve. Without our commitment to do the hard work involved in improving our State education system, the trend that we have seen over the last several years will continue. We can do better.