ACLU lawsuit: Delaware’s education system is failing students

The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware has filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of two groups representing parents and students.



The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware has filed a lawsuit against the state asserting that Delaware’s education system fails the vast majority of students.

The ACLU sued on behalf of the Delaware NAACP and Delawareans for Educational Opportunity, a nonprofit whose membership includes the parents of low-income students, English language learners, and children with disabilities.

“The case is about ensuring that every student in the state of Delaware has access to high-quality educational opportunities,” said Kathleen MacRae, executive director of ACLU-DE.

According to the lawsuit, unlike other states, the way Delaware funds schools results in more money going to schools with wealthier local populations than to schools with needier student bodies.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The suit pointed to state testing data that shows anywhere from 64 to 89 percent of low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities did not meet the state’s English and math standards. The results for high school students were reported as even worse.

“Despite the best efforts of teachers, families, and school staff, the current education system fails too many Delaware children,” said Ryan Tack-Hooper, ACLU-DE legal director. “The state must meet its constitutional obligation to adequately educate all students.

“What we’re hoping to achieve is that the court will say to the state, ‘You are not meeting your constitutional obligation to give every student an opportunity to get a high quality education,’ and that the court will then say to the state, ‘You have to figure out a way to fix it,'” he added.

Alison May, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Education, said the agency has yet to see the complaint and will respond to it in court.

“It is the goal of the department to assist Delaware’s schools in preparing every student to succeed in college or career and life,” May said in a statement.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal