Delaware Voice attacks Newark Charter School

Luck of draw won’t cut it for Newark Charter; Written by JORGE SOARES DELAWARE VOICE

While the observed persistent demographic disparity is a reason for concern and calls for a strong response from the Delaware Department of Education, there are issues that have not been addressed that are relevant in the evaluation of Newark Charter, its current proposal for expansion and DOE’s charter school policy.

Newark Charter is a publicly funded school, and its impact should be evaluated according to specific public policy criteria that evaluate its contribution to the goals of the public education system. A public policy should be evaluated under two criteria: equity (does it redistribute resources fairly?) and efficiency (can we achieve a better outcome at the same cost?).

We’re back to the same concern, the problem is with the charter school law not Newark Charter School. If we don’t stop NOW changes in the law down the road will “severely” impact existing charter schools. Mr. Soares has valid points but if it is an attempt to stop NCS approval it’s misguided.

Governor Markell (tell him Brian) you sit on your ass as the foundation of traditional public schools are being undermined. But as they fall charter schools with selective admission and questionable lottery processes will bring unwanted changes to all charter schools that will burden their financial stability. Its shameful that you as governor work in the shadows in favor of certain charter schools rather than address the obvious concerns. DSEA will endorse you rather than take a no recommendation position. But they’ll do so fearing your political power that will punish them. I was there when your little puppets disrespected the Red Clay school board who are elected officials and the Red Clay public during the Race to The Top MOU board vote. Your puppets gave them a choice of an offer they couldn’t refused. You sold that vote as everyone one board!

As required by law, a lottery system was established to deal with the excess demand faced by Newark Charter. But a lottery generates inequities randomly. This is not desirable nor acceptable, as the process for allocating public resources should not be a source of inequality.

Prove it !

The persistent excess demand for Newark Charter services results from a poorly planned education policy that does not meet the needs of the community, and expanding the benefits of those selected through the lottery process is unequivocally not a solution to the existing problems. The focus of Newark Charter and DOE should be to extend the quality education provided by Newark Charter to the currently excluded students.

So let’s just handover Christina School District lock, stock and barrel to Newark Charter School and replicate that special success throughout CSD. Lets put the charter concept to the ultimate test! OK, that’s far fetched! Lets give them Glasgow High School.

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37 Responses

  1. What a crock. Implicit in this garbage opinion piece is that NCS is the only “quality” education choice in CSD. So it’s Meece’s/NCS’s responsibility to meet the demand of the entire district now? What about the responsibility of CSD to “extend quality education” genius? If that were happening there would be no NCS debate. @Kilroy – I agree that it’s disingenuous for people to lump NCS’s charter expansion in with charter law reform, especially mid-stream in the process. What would we have to report back to Arne otherwise?

  2. This is a great piece. SPot on. Really presses the appropriate social justice buttons.

    lobbying to the State Board should continue until 1pm Thursday!

  3. Lotteries = bad, weak, poor science, prone to scandal, etc….

  4. Interesting… I am in, let’s do it. NCS needs to buy the Mall and open a K-12 school that serves anyone who wants in. This article is pro NCS and anti CSD since he points out a few times that the public system is failing, “inferior education at the public schools”. No more waiting list, everyone gets in… all NCS all the time. Go for it !! What will CSD do then?

  5. the operative question is what will NCS do then…..Mr. Meece knows….

  6. Why do we have the choice law?
    Why do we have the charter law

  7. The pieces makes the following points to me:

    1. There is huge excess demand for NCS.
    2. The value of an NCS education is high.
    3. A lottery allocates this valuable education randomly.
    4. Lotteries are inefficient and lead to inequities (ex post).
    5. If excess demand for an NCS education can be met, this should be a priority. The proposed expansion furthers the inequities created by the lottery by allocating 4 more years of NCS education to those who have already received all or some of K-8 NCS education.
    6. That unmet the demand for an NCS education has been allowed to persist results from a poorly planned education policy.
    7. DOE (with CSD of course) and NCS should work on a way to meet the excess demand for NCS. I don’t think this pieces puts the burden on NCS (Meece) to meet this demand, but if the NCS product is to be replicated, it seems reasonable to have input from NCS.

    All of these points seem reasonable to me.

  8. Right, NCS is a proven/great product. The waiting list is HUGE. 1/2 of the Charter waiting list in the State of DE is at NCS!! Lets find a way to expand NCS even more and support everyone and anyone who wants in. Fine with me… this starts w/the NCS HS and we will go from there.

  9. DDC, Mr. Meece is not the person who thinks poor kids can’t handle the extreme work load or rules at NCS. You are.

  10. @dontdestroyncs:

    “Fine with me… this starts w/the NCS HS and we will go from there.”

    Just wanted to clarify that this view is not shared by Prof. Soares in his letter where he writes that “expanding the benefits [9-12] of those selected through the lottery process [NCS K-8] is unequivocally not a solution to the existing problems.” Not that you and he need to agree, but I didn’t want you to view the piece as pro-expansion of NCS (at least not where K-8 is a feeder school for 9-12). In fact, it seems that this is where you and he disagree.

  11. @ openaccess – there is also a huge demand for an NCS HS, and this is just as much of a priority, if not a bigger priority, given the poor HS in CSD. Charter law requires NCS to meet it’s charter, not meet an unrealistic demand for the entire CSD. It is the job of CSD administration to meet this demand by providing an ample supply quality education options. One of the most logical ways they could do this is to, as Kilroy suggested, convert some existing public schools to an NCS-like model. Not piecemeal, the whole model. Let’s see how well that goes over with the various fat cats, I mean stakeholders in Delaware public education.

  12. @pm

    Mr Meece opens a school with demos so bad the Sec Ed lambastes him and admonishes the school for its NON reflectiveness and you think i’m the problem…..thanks for the LAUGH OF THE DAY!!!!!

  13. @patriot: I’m sure you are right about the demand for a NCS HS. I’m not sure about the priority (not disagreeing, just not sure). NCS started with a middle school, then added an elementary school and now is proposing a high school. I’m sure there are many reasons for this order, but it is consistent with a high school being a lower priority than K-8. I’m sure others will disagree and offer an explanation (no need to let me know, thanks). I think one could read this op-ed as supportive of the NCS HS, but not with NCS K-8 as a feeder school since this compounds the inequities and inefficiencies of the lottery system, i.e., if there is an NCS HS, a second lottery needs to be established. This is just an opinion since the op-ed really only comments on the current NCS proposal that has NCS K-8 as a feeder for the HS.

    I find this piece really critical of DOE in it lack of responsiveness to give many CSD parents (those entered the NCS lottery, but didn’t win) what they want.

  14. DDC, I don’t think you’re a problem at all. I think your an idiot. Mr. Meece has done nothing wrong, possibly with the exception of not serving lunch to poverty level students. He has addressed that. (I think the number of poverty level students is higher than what you see anyway as what we see now is only stats of families who actually fill out the form, many (or most) do not fill out the form, why would they?)
    He has not forced families to not apply to the school. They choose to not do that, whether they do not know how to go get an application, can’t go get an application, have never heard of the school, feel intimidated by it, whatever the reason, how is all of that on his shoulders? The school builds honor roll students, poverty or not, including kids who started out doing very poorly.
    You are the one who thinks the school will go to hell once the level of poverty level kids is higher so you obviously are the one who thinks that those kids are not capable of handling such a school.

  15. DDC you and ”Real Person” should go out and have drinks together. You’d have a great time bashing NCS together. :)

  16. @ openaccess – others have proposed a second lottery for the NCS HS, but what purpose does that really serve? All you’d be doing is changing the names of some of the disappointed population to include some NCS students and their parents. That may make some happy but does nothing to solve the problem of quality public education scarcity. What’s worse, the majority of those NCS students and parents aren’t going to CSD if they leave NCS. They will go to private schools, move out of state and choice into other non-CSD high schools like Dickinson. Also, the question of priority is really moot. All of the funding for NCS HS is coming from existing students (at a lower funding level) who by and large were leaving CSD anyway. How can NCS take something from CSD it never had? What you’re suggesting is the school should not worry about the 8th graders leaving the school who have limited options to focus on the 5th-8th graders in other schools who have better options relatively speaking. You could argue either side, but as you say I don’t think anybody could say unequivocally that one group should be more of a priority than the other.

    Finally, here’s a quote from Dr. Lowery’s letter recommending approval of NCS’s charter expansion:

    “More broadly, one of my core objectives as Secretary of Education is to ensure that all Delaware publicschool students have access to the kind of excellent opportunities afforded to NCS’s students. As a result and to that end, the Department approves the application for modification…(subject to two recommendations)”

    The burden is not on NCS to save the district. The burden is on the district to provide more options on par with NCS.

  17. The burden is on all of us. Just sayin’

  18. @ pandora – agreed, but when people continue to write op-ed pieces stating NCS has an obligation to meet unrealistic demand prior to addressing the needs of existing students I have to point out that this is not the school’s responsibility. When I came through the Delaware public school system (a few years ago : 7 ), schools outside the public school system (excluding private schools obviously) were considered a joke and nobody complained about not getting into those schools. Why? Because by and large people were happy with Delaware public schools. Now people are so dissatisfied with the traditional public school system that it is placing tremendous stress on schools outside of this system. That is not the fault of the schools outside of the traditional public school system, that is the fault of the failing traditional public school system. People need to stop making NCS and schools like it the scapegoat for the real problems.

  19. @patriot: I’m just repeating what has been said here before, but a second lottery would effectively double the number of families who have access to an NCS K-12 education. Yes, there would be fewer years of NCS education per child, but more children would be served,(this is more equitable). At my house at dinner, no one gets seconds until everyone has had firsts.This is the purpose that a second lottery would serve. It drastically improves the equity issue related to NCS K-8 being a feeder for the HS. Scarcity and equity are two of the issues at work here. Here’s the scarcity part: the proposed expansion will result in 190 seats per grade for K-12, but there are more people who want these seats than are available. Here’s the equity part: who should be granted access to these seats? You are absolutely right that a second lottery doesn’t help with the scarcity problem, but it clearly improves the allocation of this scarce resource along equity lines.

    I’m not suggesting anyone stop worrying about anything. I was just responding to your claim that an expansion to add a HS is a higher priority than DOE/CSD/NCS working on expanding NCS-like options to more CSD parents of K-8 children.

  20. This is bigger than NCS – always has been. I’m still waiting to see how many NCS supporters hang around to fight the fight after they gain approval for their school (which you flippin’ will!). That will be interesting and enlightening.

    Keep in mind that Kilroy, Steve N., Mike O., and myself don’t have a horse in this race. Our kids are doing just fine. And yet, here we are. Not fighting for our children, but for all children. And while we may not always agree on how to go about things, our goals are the same.

    I’d like to add more voices to that fight. You willing?

  21. they will shink back into theie easy protected preserved lives…..mark it down.

  22. they will shrink back into their easy protected preserved lives…..mark it down.

  23. I’d like to believe they won’t. I’ve had interesting conversations with most of them. But *sigh* if they do it will just prove that they never cared about the education problems facing our society.

    I think pencadermom and patriot will hang in there. Not sure about the others, but I’d love to be pleasantly surprised!

  24. This is bigger than NCS – always has been. I’m still waiting to see how many NCS supporters hang around to fight the fight after they gain approval for their school (which you flippin’ will!).

    I know a lot of people read this blog, but what else? How do we fight the fight? For those of us who have just recently become aware of the issues, what do we do?
    DDC what does easy protected preserved lives even mean? You really should stop drinking your lunch

  25. hey thank you :) we were typing at the same time. I will.

  26. I babble on to my husband and he tells me I should run for some board or something, he says to find an outlet for my energy. I think it’s to keep me busy so he can relax at night. :)

  27. Poverty is its own silencer, pencadermom. It simply isn’t realistic to expect those already failed by the public school system to maneuver that very system – and the system counts on that.

    What we do is keep at it. We call politicians and board members and charter school leaders – shame them if we have to – and speak up for the voiceless. We should meet and plan a strategy… over wine? :-) In fact, I do believe my blog will be hosting a get together next week, on the 24th. I’ll let everyone know. Meeting other bloggers (yes, you’ve attained that status, pencadermom!) in a social setting helps the dialogue!

    Every one of us commenting on a blog has the luxury of time. That’s an advantage.

    LOL on your fancy blockquotes!

  28. @ openaccess – You can’t create additional equity without creating additional inequity. You give the illusion of more equity by reopening the lottery, but in reality all you’re doing is increasing the number of disappointed people (families currently on the waiting list + families on the high school waiting list). You can’t have your “increased equity” without “increased disappointment” for all but a lucky few. The whole reason an NCS HS was set in motion is because of a lack of viable options for 8th graders graduating from NCS. Where’s the groundswell to create viable high school options in CSD? Grow the pie of viable alternatives and the lottery problem goes away. Again, NCS HS and the lottery are not the problem, lack of viable alternatives is the problem.

  29. Pandora, My wife is not happy the amount of time I have dedicated to this topic. Late nights, taking off work to attend meetings, attending meetings after work, etc… I have joked that I will run against Kowalko if no one else will (I won’t). I can’t see me leaving after the decision on Thursday.

  30. Patriot, Agree 100%!! We always go on these wild topic swings and sometimes fail to come back to why we are here. “The whole reason an NCS HS was set in motion is because of a lack of viable options for 8th graders graduating from NCS.”

  31. It would be very exciting to meet pandora, kilroy etc. in the flesh–how do I get an invitation?!
    And on a serious note: I do hope that this protracted public discussion will generate serious civic effort to address the very real problems of northern DE public schools. I would like to be part of that. That might be far and away the best thing that comes out of all this bickering.

    @patriot, this is a minor point, but in your post above: the amount of disappointment over lottery outcomes, if a 9th grade lottery were instituted, would not clearly grow. It would shift (e.g. I stop being disappointed, if my kid gets in; you become disappointed if your formerly NCS child does not “win” a HS spot). I think that’s openaccess’s point (with which I obviously agree): shifting disappointment beats intensifying disappointment & frustration for the same people who have been experiencing it so far. (And no I am not bellyaching–see my posts from yesterday! The above is a hypothetical scenario, meant to be mildly humorous.) Certainly reducing disappointment across the board, by strengthening public educational options for all, would be best. Let’s join pandora in doing that. Then no lotteries would be needed, etc.

  32. @ Citizen – agree with your last point, but introducing a new lottery does introduce a whole new group of applicants since those applying to the lower grades (primarily K, but a few seats in 1-8) will be different than the group applying to the HS, no? You and I flip/flop our seats sure, but what about the 12 other losers for every winner? I understand that “some hope” is better than “no hope”, but you have to forgive me if I can’t get behind this solution. I’m far more likely to get on board and throw my energy behind a win/win solution (i.e. grow the pie). Like I’ve posted before, I’m a product of Delaware public schools, so I was preconditioned to the idea of my kids going to them. I’m not a hard sell to consider them again, but not in their current state. I think a lot of people are in the same boat.

  33. @ pandora – I definitely plan to continue being involved. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but DDC is right on one point. Most NCS supporters operated within an NCS bubble, but I don’t think it was done on purpose (similar to no F/RL program at NCS). At least in my case, I did what I could to support my kids first, their friends and their school without much consideration to the district. My wife serves on the school council. I think most involved parents take a similar approach irrespective of what school their kid attends, and that shouldn’t make them bad people. If nothing else, this debate has made me more aware that more can and should be done for all kids in our district that want to learn. I come from a low-income background, so I’m keenly aware of the importance of advocacy for those who don’t have strong parental advocates. Having said that, I have to balance my advocacy for those kids against my obligation to advocate for the best education possible for my kids. I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive, so I plan to do what I can for those who can’t do for themselves.

  34. I’m a blogger? :P who da thunk it? I would be very excited to meet everybody too! thank you so much Pandora! :) (you just want me to teach you my blockquote trick) Reading blogs is kind of like reading a book where you give people their own look and all. Pandora, I picture you wearing a pillbox hat like on your blog. :)
    @DDNCS, I sometimes sneak on here because my husband gets annoyed. :)

  35. Kilroy: did you really ask for a proof that lotteries generate inequities randomly?

  36. “Pandora, I picture you wearing a pillbox hat like on your blog.”
    Try a wine glass in one hand and a meat cleaver in the other LOL :)

  37. a meat cleaver? ok I think I’m busy on the 24th :)

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