Wilmington Delaware city council resolution may delay approval of Newark Charter’s modification request

The copy of this document comes to Kilroy via: http://dontdestroychristina.wordpress.com/.

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20 Responses

  1. Whereas, Newark Charter High School is NOT a part of Christina School District…. it is chartered through the State of Delaware. Newark Charter receives no services, transportation, buildings, etc, from Christina School District. (Sounds like the City of Wilmington has an issue with the State of Delaware or really the Christina School District…the Christiana School district has let them down and not provided them a high school, I would sue them).
    Whereas, any child in the State of Delaware can apply to attend Newark Charter School, with preference given to families in the 5 mile radius. Just as my child could apply to Wilmington Charter School or North Star elementary with preference given to Red Clay residents.
    Oh, and
    Whereas the Newark High School WILL have a cafeteria that will serve free and reduced lunch.
    If they have already submitted this, that’s great, it doesn’t matter if it’s factual or not.

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  2. I’m troubled by this from City Council – it doesn’t seem the WIlmingotn Council members have done their homework or proper research into the application.
    The application – as posted for the Newark Charter Expansion, very clearly illustrated plans for a cafeteria and plans to serve lunch including to participate in all free and reduced lunch program options.

    The Wilmington Council members state that only people within a five mile radius can attend Newark Charter which according to their application simply says preference is provided to those within that radius. Anyone can apply, anyone from throughout the state. It is true that applications from those within that five mile radius may take up all available enrollment slots – I don’t have those details, but the fact that others can’t apply is a complete falsehood. Traditional public schools are often closed to choice because their enrollment is full from those within their geographic feeder area but that doesn’t stop someone for applying for school choice should a spot become available, Delaware Military Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, and others use preference criteria from within their district restricitng the avalilable slots to those outside of their geographic region as well, doesn’t prevent anyone from applying for an open spot. The same appears to be true for Newark Charter.
    The City Council states that all city of Wilmington students must leave the city to attend high school – ahem, where is Moyer Academy, oh that’s right its in the City of Wilmington(610 East 17th Street, Wilmington DE 19802) – they might not like it but last time I checked it is a public high school that received public school funding just like Newark Charter School does. Blatantly incorrect statements like this completely deteriorate any valid complaint or concern they may have.

    They further claim that Newark Charter School is in the Christina School District – What?? – well, no councilmembers you are wrong there too, Newark Charter is not authorized by the Christina School District like Delaware Military Academy and Charter School of Wilmington, it is a state authorized charter school with no ties to the Christina School District.
    If I were on the WIlmington Council I would be embarrassed by these comments which are so easily proven to be not true. If one’s problem is with charter schools – say it, if one’s issue is with the ability under the Delaware Code to apply admission preference criteria – then campaign to change that but don’t put out incorrect statements and embarrass yourself and those that rely on you to represent their interests in the office for which they elected you. I would expected at least some basic fact checking before taking a step like this to have a vote on a resolution from City Council!

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  3. Agree on the technicalities (and yes that’s embarassing!) but in spirit this does perhaps affects them as much as they state. I suppose they’ll modify and re-ratify if they care this much.

    And yes there is a proposed cafeteria. But it may as well not even be there for low-income families. Will that cafeteria offer any assistance to NCS elementary grade levels? No. A large majority of the students eating in the high school cafeteria will have had to apply years earlier in Kindergarten to get into NCS. So a low income family would have to commit to up to 9 years of paying for lunches (vs the free/reduced lunches at their neighborhood school) before they could get any subsidy from the NCS cafeteria. This will continue to be one of many reasons that low income people do not even apply to NCS, helping to preserve NCS’s 16% low-income ratio, versus the average 50% low income ratio for the other public elementary and middle schools in its 5 mile radius.

    To you NCS parents – Remember the waiver you signed stating you would not request a free/reduced lunch? This is not the only part of the NCS formula for high output. But high input is a big part of high output. I used to think this and the other “quiet costs” of attending NCS were unintentional. But then I learned better yesterday when I saw a letter response from Gregory Meece to a politician defending the cafeteria and income levels, in which he didn’t even relate the two. Not to mention he totally buried the income level gap questions by comparing NCS only to the entire state of Delaware, yet the data is right at his fingertips to compare to those schools within the 5 mile radius. If you’ve read this far, and believe a non-subsidized cafeteria will have this effect, think about Meece. Should he have known this? How many charter schools has he built? He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    The sad part isn’t that it unfairly benefits NCS. The sad part is this income segregation effect, funded by PUBLIC education money, damages the surrounding public schools accordingly by INCREASING their % of low income families. That means lower test scores, lower ratio of involved parents, lower fund-raising. All thanks to NCS.

    If you own a home in the 5 mile radius, you should be very concerned about the effect this has on property values. When the buyer of your home looks into schools, yours will cause that family to think: “We have a less than 50% chance of getting into NCS, therefore it is likely that our public school option is X”, where X is one of the many neighborhood schools that NCS is making worse. And if that family has kids 7+ years old?

    Extending NCS as it is currently designed will simply extend this income level segregation effect across the 5 mile radius at the high school level, too. Thanks again, NCS! Some of those schools are in real trouble already, and this will further deplete them of the needed demographic balance of income levels that makes a community school work.

    One solution that would help work around this problem would be to re-do the lottery for entry into NCS for whatever grade level can start to use the subsidized cafeteria. Then the poor people will be more interested in applying. And before any of you tell me, yes, I know there are some low-income people there now, making it work. 16%. But when you’re talking about thousands of students, every additional element of cost drives up or down the % of low income families who will apply. And that’s why it’s not at 50% like the rest of the radius school families.

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    • “To you NCS parents – Remember the waiver you signed stating you would not request a free/reduced lunch?” where did you get that from?? I never signed a waiver. That’s just funny. People pulling things out of thin air. I just realized something. I don’t think you wrote it on this post but on several others (if it was someone else then sorry) about the NCS busses not picking up kids out of the 5 mile radius. Did you know that Newark High does not come to my neighborhood and I live in Christina School District? I was wondering if you thought that was fair? So if I have to be at work early, I cannot choice my kids into Newark. They discriminate against us Glasgow families. Shame on them!!!

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    • There’s not a way to edit posts, but I went back and replied to that original point stating that the busing point was incorrect. I’m not a professional investigator and don’t have time to research everything on my own, so I go with things I believe to be true when they are from usually reliable sources.

      I’m pretty sure the lunch waiver (may not have been called that) is in fact true. Maybe it was buried in the paperwork. But the idea is that the state law says anyone claiming to be low income can demand that the State supply a breakfast and lunch for their kid. This is how it works in public schools, and Delaware law says it applies to all publicly funded schools.

      Now as to your bus situation… that’s because you are trying to choice your kid to NHS. How could the Choice system offer to pick up kids from other areas where that bus would not normally go near? Would that be fair to the other kids spending an extra 20 minutes on that bus because you want to choice to another school built for the neighboring area? I choice my kids to Downes and have to drive them to the school or to one of their bus stops. I don’t consider it a form of discrimination, as it’s due to efficiency/logic, and the outcome is simply that I’m more likely to end up in the school that was built for my neighborhood anyway. It’s totally legal, common, and I would say very ethical. The cafeteria issue on the other hand is a nationally acknowledged problem in education, as it equates to an effective cost of maybe (just estimating here) $700 per student per year if the family were to attend NCS vs. a neighborhood school, that’s definitely enough to discourage some low income families. I mean, you don’t need me in this blog to tell you that; it’s out there. https://www.google.com/search?q=cafeteria+free+reduced+segregation+school A lot of people in the community, a lot of civil rights attention, are focused on that one criticism. I don’t know how the $500/year in fees is justified, but DE charter schools are not allowed to charge anything not normally charged by a district school. What I do know is that my kids’ neighborhood school doesn’t have any fees.

      Unfortunately, NCS now has 9 years of that effect, and even adding a subsidized cafeteria for all levels won’t welcome some low income people who feel that they weren’t ever wanted. But whatever the reasons, NCS has 16% low income, and the all other public school kids inside the radius are at 50% low income. There’s a degree of self exclusion at play, and you can’t change that. But NCS should do what it can to adhere to laws designed to make schools inclusive of all income levels.

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    • $500 a year? I hope that was a typo. Or you are mis-informed. It is $50 a year. My kids went to McVey before NCS. McVey had a $20 a year, per kid activity fee. I am pretty sure NCS has a max. on the $50 per kid fee, for people who have a lot of kids there! I don’t see the difference between NCS not bussing outside of the radius (or if that would even be true, the spots are always filled with the kids inside the radius) and Newark High not picking up my kids. So if it is a neighborhood school thing, then NCS could be considered a neighborhood school too (and I think it is) that concentrates on a five mile radius.

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    • Regarding bussing, all of the kids at NCS had to be within the 5 mile radius when they applied to get in (unless they are the child of an employee or sibling of a student at NCS). That being said, if you later move outside the 5 miles, you are still provided bus service as long as you remain within CSD. It think that’s more than fair. Also regarding the lack of a cafeteria – everyone should understand the NCS gets $0 for their building, yes $0. That means they had to raise money and borrow to do this. I guess if it were my decision, the cafeteria is less necessary then say – the library or the gym? To think that NCS did this specifically to exclude low income students is just not accurate. It was a financial decision.

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  4. NCS creates a winner within the guidlines of the law signed by Democratic Governor Tom Carper and now the know nothings are carping. The Wilmington City Council resolution is embarassing in it’s lack of facts and the fact the realtor’s use moving into the NCS 5 mile radius as a selling point should tell the CSD brass that they need to clean up their act but instead they create bogus academies and have zero control over their school’s. DOE should offfer NCS a contract to run all of their school’s so public education could be improved for all kids.

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    • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was the law until 1954…was it right to take advantage of it?

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    • Realtors can use whatever information they want as a selling point, but of course in this case they’re misleading new families. If you buy within the 5 mile radius now, you have a very low chance of gaining entry to NCS. If the expansion is approved as proposed, your chances would be similarly low, AND they would only exist for children at kindergarten age (so families entering the area with kids age 5 & up won’t ever get in), AND your exclusion, assuming you’re in the vast majority of those not accepted, will continue through high school. There will always be some unsuspecting families who get tricked into believing that the 5-mile radius is an educational advantage, but the common wisdom is building that the 5-mile radius doesn’t really mean much, since you have a much higher probability of needing to attend your neighborhood school than of getting into NCS. The stats for those schools are considerably less attractive to home buyers. Newarkian makes good points, above, about why that is–what the relationship is between NCS’s stats and those stats (and it’s not what Meece would like us to believe).

      Expanding NCS in the way that you suggest–having it run all area schools–is a better idea than what NCS is currently suggesting (which is an “expansion” consisting mainly of extending the grade levels–that is doubling down on the advantages of those already there, not expanding in the sense that you mean–i.e. by making NCS’s advantages available to more CSD students, and thereby potentially reforming the district across the board). It’s hard to imagine that such an NCS “takeover” of the district could ever happen–we all know how much resistance there would be to that. And again, Newarkian’s data suggests that this probably would not produce as rosy an outcome as you might like to believe–that is, that parts of Meece’s apparent success are based on exclusion (the key 16% vs. 50% low SES comparison). But sure, maybe having him in charge of CSD would be better for most students than what they have now–maybe he could partially replicate the good outcomes of NCS even with the full district population, in all its complexity and need.

      Yes, the Wilmington Council is woefully misinformed. Anyone can find more facts about NCS through a five-minute Google search than they came up with. They are probably right, though, that the NCS expansion is not in their constituent’s interest.

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    • “Realtors can use whatever information they want as a selling point”

      No, they can’t. There are laws that constrict what realtors can do, particularly around race.

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    • “DOE should offfer NCS a contract to run all of their school’s so public education could be improved for all kids.”
      Laughable…imagine Greg miece trying to lay the law down to certain students and parents in CSD. If similar NCS policies and models are instituted at these schools, by the time the first set of lawsuit hits, he would be running into retirement or the nearest shrink’s office.
      But seriously, a major factor in charter school adoption was the belief (selling point) they would provide a test bed for innovative practices that would help the traditional public schools. Thus a better progression for NCS would be creating another K-8 or even 5-8 with a demographic closer to CSD average somewhere in Bear/Christiana. With their successful K-8 program in place NCS would have no problem in replicating their results with another school.

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    • “With their successful K-8 program in place NCS would have no problem in replicating their results with another school.”

      I think they would have a problem replicating NCS results elsewhere. I think Meece knows they would have a problem, too. Meece doesn’t want to work with demographics around the area-average 50% low income ratios. However, it works really well at the low 16% ratio of NCS. He was offered an opportunity to take on Glasgow as his high school for NCS kids, retaining and including the current Glasgow kids. Free building included. Ready to open, turn key. He turned it down.

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    • Actually, I think we should give Meece a CSD school. For that matter, I think all charters that exceed as NCS and CSW should be REQUIRED to duplicate their program in a district school (and given the rightful funding the school would have received if it were run by the district.) DOE ought to force districts and charters to work together when the charter is surpassing its district competitors. That’s how to move the “hot bed for innovation” out of the incubator and into general pop. The experiment is over. Let’s see Meece generalize the results outside the lab. And let’s hold DOE accountable.

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    • Love it, Sturgis! I support your plan. Of course, the charter gang will have one of its controls removed at this point. They won’t be allowed to cherry pick the students at the regular district schools. Let’s see if there’s really some magic in that there charter formula!

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  5. Meece was offered Glasgow? Howlingly funny. Glasgow has an union and they would never allow themselves to become a non union school.

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    • Newarkian, Is it fair to claim that Meece doesn’t want to work with work with children in low demographic areas? First, that is false, I happen to live in a “low demographic” area that is within the 5 mile radius to the school. Second (I asked this on other thread too) when was Meece offered Glasgow High? For Meece to “take over” Glasgow, the parents and teachers of that school would have to get a majority of vote and a public meeting held…did I miss this? Who “offered” it?
      A model of NCS would work in another demographic because the parents who woud “choose” this option agree with the schools philosophy of decorum and discipline. Just because you are low income, or of a certain demographic, doesn’t mean you don’t institute discipline in your home…and just because you have more money doesn’t mean you automatically parent better. We both probably have seen the latter idea doesn’t hold water! The main reason kids have left NCS is not because they were kicked out, there have been very few expulsions, it is because they didn’t like the rules. Any school can be successful if the parents are involved, and this school usually attracts applicants who are like minded as far as discipline (off all income levels and demographics) NO school can make someone parent their child.
      As far as the claim by the council that it is not fair they have no school such as NCS, that is not true…what about Moyer Academy? What about Cab Calloway or DMA? It is true they have no DISTRICT school in the city, and that is an issue. But that issue is either with the Christina School District, or the State of Delawrare.

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    • or “Delaware” as it is commonly known :-)…sorry don’t want to get busted for my spelling errors (of which I make plenty!)

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  6. Gil Scarborough has passed away. For those of you not around at the time, this man dealt and led under extraordinary circumstances when the school districts first executed the Evans vs. Buchanan decision in NCC busing.

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  7. Sturgis, above–that is a fantastic suggestion. The wider community needs to gain something from Charter successes. And yes, they are touted as incubators, or engines of change. So absolutely, let’s infuse some of their energy and enthusiasm back into our regular public schools, where most of the kids are.

    The current proposal to add an NCS 9-12 that will largely serve the children who attended K-8 and, in doing so, will extract them entirely from the Christina district schools does the opposite of what you’re proposing. That’s why we should reject it (or the board should, in our stead).

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