Equity in Education

All of Delaware’s students deserve a safe, equitable, and proficient education. Addressing inequity in education at the roots of the issues can help us make that vision a reality.

Violations of students’ rights, historic underfunding of public schools, systemic racism, and harsh disciplinary practices are all-too-common occurrences behind school walls.


Delaware schools should foster an environment where all students belong by including students in academic and enrichment experiences that prepare them for life after grade school – both academically and personally.

All students are valued.

Inclusive schools embrace elements of safety and health by reducing school discipline rates, engaging students in enrichment activities, and increasing access to accelerated classes.

Delaware's students are our future.

Increasing student engagement is possible through a focus on student participation in academic leadership, civic engagement, peer-to-peer mentoring, and relationship building.

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Charter School of New Castle (CSNC): Education Equity and Safe Schools Initiative 2021-2023 Model for Creating an Inclusive School Climate

By: Melva L.Ware, ACLU-DE Consultant for Curriculum Development and Evaluation

SAFE Schools Report

The ACLU of Delaware has made significant investments in Education Equity and Safe Schools in the state. We have taken a more granular look at elements of equity. These are defined in research that examines the essential value of school climate and social-emotional factors that influence achievement and reflect, at the school building and classroom levels, a school’s commitment to inclusive practices that allow all students opportunities to thrive. This work has proceeded by responding to a key question that should establish a framework for working within any school community that seeks to craft inclusive school practices.

Many in education pursue equity through single dimensions with the most prevalent being budget and financial resources. While funding is important, spending levels alone do not produce equitable access to high quality educational opportunities. 

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Scholars Engaged for Action (SEFA)

Students who are involved in their larger communities through school programs often feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in their own school communities, leading to better education outcomes and a path of civic engagement that can last far beyond their grade school years.

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S.A.F.E. Schools

Every student deserves an equitable and accommodating education. But throughout our history, Delaware has fallen short on giving students equitable and accommodating opportunities. We're organizing parents, students, and community members to make educational equity a reality.

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School Discipline

Children should be educated, not incarcerated. We challenge policies and practices within public school systems and the juvenile justice system that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. 

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Fair Discipline Online Toolkit

By replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective non-punitive interventions, schools will consciously create more inclusive cultures. Comprehensive studies indicate that inclusive school cultures reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families. Non-punitive, restorative discipline practices support the development of responsive relationships for young people with adults.

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Education Equity Ambassadors Program

Are you concerned with violations of students’ rights, underfunding, systemic racism, and harsh disciplinary practices in Delaware public schools? Are you interested in becoming a trained advocate for a safe, equitable, and proficient education for all Delaware students? Become an Education Equity Ambassador!

Education Equity Ambassadors (EEAs) complete an paid training over the course of six sessions to better understand and navigate avenues for change, and to grow the skills necessary to become community advocates on education equity issues such as budget equity, restorative justice, inclusion, and health and safety and more.

Learn more and apply

Recruitment for the Fall 2023 cohort has ended. Please check back for information about Spring 2024.

For more information about the Education Equity Ambassador program or application, contact Shannon Griffin at sgriffin@aclu-de.org.

Our Goals


Equity in Education means getting everyone involved.

The only way to make equity in education a standard in Delaware schools is through collaborative efforts from parents, community members, educators, and of course, students themselves.

Parent engagement is vital to equity in education. Parent allies are effective advocates for safe and healthy schools that support achievement. Voting in school board elections, volunteering in equity initiatives, and helping provide off-campus opportunities for kids’ achievement are also important pieces that all community members – not just parents – can add to the puzzle of equity in education.

Teachers, school staff and administration, and the Delaware Department of Education, all hold the bulk of decision-making power when it comes to education initiatives. Bringing these groups on board and working collaboratively is essential in making equity a systemic part of our education system.

Ultimately, equity in education is meant to benefit students. Ensuring student perspectives are always an active part of academic planning and programming is key to bringing equity in education to schools state-wide.

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement is a key contributor to student success.

Civic engagement and civic achievement programs can accelerate learning, raise expectations for performance, and normalize help-seeking behavior. Students who are involved in their larger communities through school programs often feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in their own school communities, leading to better education outcomes. Civically engaged students can also begin a path of civic engagement that can last far beyond their grade school years.

Discipline Reform

Student success should come from celebrating achievement, not criminalizing children’s behavior.

Children should be educated, not incarcerated. It's essential that we challenge policies and practices within public school systems and the juvenile justice system that perpetuate a school-to-prison pipeline in order to achieve equity in education.

Student discipline is a racial justice issue. Implicit biases against Black and brown children cause them to experience harsher discipline than their white peers. Further, many kids who experience high discipline rates have disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.

These students aren't just slipping through the cracks – they're being pushed into the cracks. Delaware educators need to address high school discipline rates by learning and adopting systematic approaches that encourage problem-solving and create opportunities for students to take responsibility for their behavior and learn new, better behavioral patterns.

Closing the Gap

No student’s education experience should be defined by their zip code.

Centuries of racism have created an education system that offers vastly different experiences for children who live in different parts of our state. Historically white neighborhoods boast schools that are well-funded and well-resourced, while schools in historically Black and brown neighborhoods are left to scrape funds from the bottom of the barrel, leaving resource gaps wide enough for entire communities to fall through. Kids who are living in poverty aren’t starting their education in the same place their peers from higher-income backgrounds are. They’re starting their journey miles behind the starting line, with plenty of barriers along the way.

Efforts to improve funding for Delaware’s low-income schools have increased in recent years, but without concentrated efforts to continue to bridge these funding gaps, a huge imbalance in education equity will continue to persist. Realizing equity in education means addressing these demographic barriers at the academic level and on a personal level, so that all students can begin their academic journeys at the starting line with their peers.