Colonial School District wrapped up the six school board forums held this week and last to allow voters to hear candidate platforms and positions on some issues.
Although Colonial has two seats up for grabs and four candidates, just two individuals participated in the forum: Christine Smith and Keenan Dorsey.
Smith and Gail Wade are running for the District B seat in Colonial. Dorsey and Leo Magee are campaigning for the District D seat in Colonial.
Wade declined to participate, and Magee didn’t respond to multiple contacts from the forums’ organizers.
The groups that organized and created questions for the forums are First State Action Fund, Grow the Good, S.A.F.E. Schools Delaware, The National Coalition of 100 Black Women (Delaware), Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, NAACP (Central Delaware), Network Delaware, Delaware PTA, ACLU Delaware and the Delaware League of Women Voters.
Smith recently retired from a 30-year-career with the Red Clay Consolidated School District, serving as an athletic coach, teacher, assistant principal and 13 years in the central office, where she was the human resources director.
Her goals as a school board member are:
- To be transparent and a fiscally responsible oversight of taxpayer funds, the district budgeting process and the budget itself.
- To ensure students are educated in a safe, positive environment by passionate qualified teachers holding a sincere intentional philosophy of equity for all students
The meticulous selection of school resource officers is important, she said, because she thinks officers need more training to combat the discrepancies of police brutality between people of color and White citizens.
She said those officers provide a necessary level of security “that unfortunately is peculiar to the U.S. due to Americans’ love of guns.”
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“Elected officials should do everything they can to limit the ability of unauthorized persons bringing a gun on to school properties or any community function such as dining out, concerts, worship centers,” she said.
Smith defines critical race theory as a law school curriculum designed to expose law students to the inherent issues of discrimination and racism in the U.S. judicial system.
“Delaware schools are not teaching critical race theory, however, merely nationwide reform,” she said.
School-choice is critical, she said, because charters and private schools often fill niches that the public perceive are missing or lacking in the public school sector.
She said she’s open to suggestions from community members that can help Colonial become a more transparent district, whether that be social media posts about policies, better placement of meeting recordings on district sites, or anything that can make a child’s education more lucid to parents.
Dorsey said he wasn’t the best student in school, but fortunately, there was love and some educators that cared enough about him and his future to help him succeed, and he wants to pass that torch along to today’s youth.
“I do not believe that individual parents should determine the outcome of assigned, age-appropriate materials and availability, or what other parents feel is acceptable for their children,” he said.
Families have the right to shape their child’s beliefs and morals, said Dorsey.
He thinks educators are more than capable of pivoting and creating alternative assignments for students whose parents might not want them learning a specific topic or reading a certain book.
When he was a high school principal, he could see discipline referrals for students in the second grade.
Dorsey thinks a discipline referral archive is needed, but administrators shouldn’t be able to scroll through the names of students who have been disciplined, especially at such a young age.
“It’s not giving the kid a fair shot when they get older, because they grow, they mature and they change,” he said.
He supports school choice, but said that public schools need to step up their game.
“Moving forward with Colonial, we need to look inward and adjust our offerings, if possible, to attract our parents and students back to our district,” he said.
Dorsey said an effective school board member will have a deep understanding of education and what is going on within Colonial’s schools. He said a collaborative nature to cooperate and make decisions is key.
“The most important factor is focusing on our students,” he said.
A full recording of the Colonial forum can be viewed here.
School board election polls open Tuesday, May 10, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and polling places for each district can be found here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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