Wilmington, DE

Delaware Youth's Education Backslides During Summers

Abby Donnelly

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3Jfavt_0aOQXHxX00
Abby Donnelly

Though students share classroom seats, summer break breeds future educational disparities.

(WILMINGTON, De.) When the last school bell rings for the academic year, students swell with excitement and energy for the coming months out of the classroom. For many local elementary and middle school students, summer is defined by warm vacations at Rehoboth Beach, cool swim club matches, and the rich smell of toasted marshmallows atop a melty chocolate bar. In Wilmington, however, summer builds the backbone of educational inequality, also known as the achievement or opportunity gap. 

Educational inequality, though born outside of the classroom, manifests itself once autumn fades back into view. Students without the financial resources to attend educational camps, purchase reading materials, or embark on travel expeditions, return to their desks in August racing to catch up to their more fortunate peers as well as master the previous year’s learning. Racial inequities, particularly throughout Delaware’s public schools, perpetuates this cycle and system of disparities that continue on from graduation to employment. 

In 2019, the graduation rate from Delaware high schools for white students remained disproportionately high (90.07%) compared to their Black (86.37%), Hispanic (85.02%), and Pacific Islander counterparts (80.00%). This summer backslide may contribute up to two-thirds of the opportunity gap. Narrowing the achievement gap during summer months will also contribute to reducing the lifelong impacts of unequal educational opportunity.

The summer backslide represents a piece of the larger public education crisis throughout the state. Delaware’s public education system relies on heavy and high taxes, but yields troubling overall outcomes. In 2021, Delaware ranked 13th nationally for highest spending per pupil at $15,639, about $2,396 above the average. Yet, EducationWeek’s K-12 Achievement Index, which includes reading and math ability, high school graduation rates, and Advanced Placement exam results, evaluated Delaware at 40th out of all states and D.C., grading this performance with a D-. 

Local nonprofits and educational programs have successfully reduced this systemic inequity during pivotal warmer months. One such organization, Education Equity Delaware, aims at restructuring educational financing to provide equal opportunity not only in the classroom, but also throughout school breaks. 

Founder and Executive Director of DelawareCAN, an educational equity organization, Atnre Alleyne, detailed racial injustice in the school system, questioning, “How can a system that lacks diversity in its educator workforce, that is growing even more segregated, and that fails to acknowledge the impact of racism on American society, lead to an enlightened populace?” Delaware’s public education failures interlaced with the state’s social fabric, rooted in issues of race, poverty, and violence, may be most visible as students return to classrooms post COVID-19.

Comments / 0

Published by

A Delaware-based journalist highlighting local stories on health, education, and science. Abby is an undergraduate at Georgetown University studying global health and journalism.

Wilmington, DE
149 followers

More from Abby Donnelly

Comments / 0