Delaware Governor drops the ball on charter school laws

lowery says she needs more time to give Newark Charter proposal ‘due diligence’

Written by WADE MALCOLM and NICHOLE DOBO The News Journal

“There’s no way I could do my due diligence,” Lowery said, given the short amount of time she had to review the “inordinate” amount of feedback and concerns.

“We want to carefully consider everything. We don’t want to approve something and then have to pull it back late,” she said

Many people for get or just don’t understand the DOE charter review committee’s job is to review the charter school application, hold the meeting including the public meeting, vote on their findings and present their “recommendation” to the secretary of education who in-turns reviews all material including public input and them make her recommendation to the state board of education. It the state board of education who makes the final vote to approve charter school application or other action. The system worked here but the reformist who are so use to controlling the game aren’t use to hearing wait, hold on or even no!

   “It’s about my kids. It is now political, and I don’t know how it got that way,” she said.

The parent who said this is right on about concerns with her children. However. the charter school reform movement was driven by politics and the law is so skewed even those who seeded the charter agenda knew a day will come to serious question the law. Didn’t matter to them back then because their kids needs were met to circumvent desegregation. Today’s charter parents who weren’t part of the agenda see charter schools as quality education for their children but we’re setup by those who allowed a skewed charter law.

Lowery said the letter will not be used in her decision, but information and public comments submitted before the deadline raised similar concerns.

And see is 100% correct! Even Governor Markell has concerns with resegregation and skiming and creaming of students as he phrases it.

“It’s an excellent school,” said Lowery. “Since they are doing such excellent work, who wouldn’t want their child to go there?”

And she is 100% being honest! Newark Charter School isn’t going anywhere. The problems will be resolved.

Meece has said part of the school’s effort to expand includes adding a free- and reduced-lunch program.

Get approval and then trust that it will be added?

Meece said he then emailed supporters, but the general public was not told about the delay.

Sounds shady!

During the board meeting, department spokeswoman Alison Kepner said she did not know about Lowery’s plan to delay the vote and that the secretary had already informed some people.

I guess Lowery wanted to allow Meece to break the news to parents rather than information going out on speed-dial to the News Journal. But Lowery could have waited 30 minutes and then tell the PIO.

Meece was unhappy with the delay and that the added time would allow the controversy to continue.

“It’s not doing anybody any good,” he said.

Might to those getting fucked by a flawed charter school law some good. His statement shows a concerning disconnect to equitable education for all children. Doesn’t he realize charter schools do have an impact all public education that damages existing public schools.  Trashing Christina is fine however some of the school rated poor do have students exceeding the standards and great teachers. Kicking the foundation out from under them does help fix the problems. Seem like everyday Race to The Top is a big scam that first thought. Charter organizers seem to know Race to The Top is destine to fail and their is no need to slow the charter train.

Brian Selander, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Markell, said the governor and Lowery talked prior to the meeting, and he supported the delay.

If Markell delivered on his campaign promise Newark Charter parents won’t be going through this stress now! There would be a cafeteria and no 5 mile preference. Markell continues to let these problems fester and keeps his blinders on avoiding the truth. Jack meet me for coffee this morning ! You know the place, the last place we shook hands. Those of us who have concerns about the charter school law are enemies, were concern citizens who see all children as ours even Newark Charter students who have their rights. The law is out of balanced and needs to be fix!


27 responses to “Delaware Governor drops the ball on charter school laws

  1. nativenewarkmom

    Meece said he then emailed supporters, but the general public was not told about the delay.
    Sounds shady!

    What is “shady” about this? Is it Meece’s duty to notify the general public about the delay? Is it is his fault that Lowery contacted him as a courtesy? Isn’t it his right to contact the parents and supporters by email if he wishes?

    What is shady is the ACLU making an 11th hour play to derail the process.


  2. ”It’s about my kids. It is now political, and I don’t know how it got that way,” she said.
    It is a public policy decision…
    There is an article by Prof. Stockman on that discusses the differences between private choices and public choices. It is very informative.


  3. nativenewarkmom

    “Brian Selander, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Markell, said the governor and Lowery talked prior to the meeting, and he supported the delay.”

    supported = ordered


  4. kilroysdelaware

    ACLU didn’t derail it !
    “Lowery said the letter will not be used in her decision, but information and public comments submitted before the deadline raised similar concerns.”

    If Lowery would of allow the vote it would have been a “NO” because at that time she wasn’t ready to give her full approval. Meece owes her an apology because she just saved NCS request.


  5. Kilroy – a few questions (Really, I want to know.)
    1. Do you believe in charter schools at all and under what circumstances? (Answer this on last, please)
    2. As far as I can tell, the CSD schools have been going down the toilet since 1978. We have watched them try (sort of) but fail miserably at fixing them for 34 years. Have you seen any radically different plan recently that gives you hope that they (CSD) will have success in turning this miserable streak around anytime in the next 2-4 years?
    3. My husband and I found a neighborhood in the Appo district last night that we are planning on moving to if the high school is not approved. (We don’t think we are alone in looking for alternatives to CSD) Do you think CSD and opponents have underestimated the effects on Newark if this high school is not approved?
    4. I have talked to many people in public schools (mostly teachers) about the core knowledge curriculum (not the same as common core standards) and the fact that it is at least 50% of the reason that NCS students test so well. I have purchased and given copies of the book “The Knowledge Deficit” by E. D. Hirsch to may people in education. The book is full of statistics that mirror exactly the results at NCS and other Delaware public schools. This curriculum could be game changing for Delaware schools. Do you think anyone in DOE or CSD want to implement some of the successful models from NCS and other charter schools? If they do, what do you think is in the way?
    5. Do you believe in neighborhood schools? Or is that automatically a “segregationist” thing?


  6. Greg Mazzotta


    Perhaps this might be of interest…Regarding successful curricula and models, in 2003 the CSD Superintendent’s contract was conditioned on application the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program.

    This was a result, I suspect, of the success that was realized in 2000
    with Milford schools.

    Any concerned Delawarian only look west to Maryland to observe
    this model is being deployed state-wide. In Milford, it was named:
    Plan-Do-Study-Act and in MD to be known as Process management and Improvement. It’s systemic continuous improvement.


  7. Greg-

    “the CSD Superintendent’s contract was conditioned on application the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program.”

    What exactly does this mean? He was given a contract on the condition that he apply for the Baldrige Program? Does htis mean that he need to make changes so that they (CSD) would qualify?

    By the way –
    1) Baldrige doesn’t really mean that you are an effective organization any more. I am a consultant and know first hand that Baldrige is just a application writing and compliance exercise – virtually meaningless in terms of the organization’s actual ability to be effective and provide value for customers and stakeholders.
    2) What key processes are they improving and managing in MD? Do you have any links results they have gotten. Process Management is not easy in the public sector. But kudos for giving it a go!


    • Greg Mazzotta


      Thanks for your inquiry and I suspect that you could SEARCH my name and find years of postings.

      1) The condition stated – as I understand it – was to prepare an application. That got my attention as most applicants begin at the state level and this condition was equivalent to showing up at the Olympics and expecting to compete.

      2) The outcomes of the application process is to know your
      strengths and opportunities for improvement.

      3) Indeed, Baldrige/Education recipients are considered
      Role Model Schools – nationally and internationally…and at
      the 19th National Quality Education Conference there were
      32 states and 4 countries participating…only me from Delaware

      4) Compliance? The Baldrige Criteria are non-prescriptive – they
      don’t tell an organization how to do something, they tell what it
      should be doing, then leave it to the organization to do the work.

      5) Meaningless? Please check the links I’ve provided and will
      sent you any number of MBNQA Recipient Profiles documenting
      this Performance Excellence results. The work in Milford was
      awarded a Model Of Excellence and a Blue Ribbon distinction.

      I hope this help a bit and here’s a link that might address you additional concerns as Delaware and Maryland began at the
      same time…

      And Yes, process management is simple and not easy.


    • Greg Mazzotta


      The Baldrige Program educates organizations of all sizes
      and from all sectors in organizational performance management
      and improvement. We also administer the Malcolm Baldrige
      National Quality Award. Our key services are to identify and
      recognize role-model organizations, share best management practices, and help organizations achieve best-in-class
      performance levels. We are the only public-private partnership
      and Presidential award program dedicated to improving U.S. organizations.


    • Greg Mazzotta


      Thanks for sharing. In researching the CSD/Baldrige link,
      please ask for the 28 October, 2004 “Processes, and
      People Restructuring Project” (Hegadus) as it specifies
      project Aims and Results.

      My aim in following this discussion is to show that in the
      10 years it took for MD to be a MBNQA recipient, Delaware
      has (whatever) : resources, tools, and support in the same
      time period. You will begin to feel this as teachers will go
      where treated best; West? Cecil County is adopting at a
      fast rate.

      Milford Schools were able to see results in less than 36 months.

      I’m asking people to understand that education is being
      transformed and that we need to align the political will,
      resources, and talent.

      Might this initiative have been a “carrot” to CSD since is
      considered to be the most significant? Why role did
      the Superintendents play in sharing best practices?

      So, you remain to be skeptical or have you reviewed the
      link and information that you requested?

      Also, Delaware terminated it’s State Quality Award Program
      at the expressed consternation of over 400 volunteers willing
      to provide insight and understanding.

      Please let me know how I can help you, CharterMom.
      BTW, I’ll have my first ASQ newsletter article published
      this month. Thanks for your good work in quality.


  8. kilroysdelaware

    CharterMom, “1. Do you believe in charter schools at all and under what circumstances? (Answer this on last, please)”

    100%! I just have a problems with the charter school law particularly the 5 mile radius and the specific interest preferences. I just had a face to face with Chuck Baldwin President of Charter School of Wilmington. Just like Newark Charter School, Wilmington Charter School are wonderful! Some people many not care about the throw-away kids in the world but I do! If charters are public then the admission should be open with not peeking at applicants current grades or test score or ask if the have an IEP. But I support charters 100% as an option parents and students want. Also, I support traditional public schools the same way.

    #2, I don’t follow CSD as much as Red Clay but CSD failure stems back to those who drove in financially into the ground. All the money used to pay back the bailout loan which took a few years could have served student programming and better innovation. Race to The Top isn’t the answer to CSD reform! Parents need to step up and be more active in the CSD and the district! Sadly to say classroom disruption drag down many schools. Glasgow High leader ended in-school suspension which sounds smart just to kick them out for a few days, But in the long run that’s the wrong thing to do. Many good teachers get blamed for things out of their control and are blamed for all failure in which many failures go back to leadership and legislation.

    #3 Newark High School will be approved! Not busting on Meece but he made a bad move by putting that piece in the News Journal. He should have just stay clam. Being critical of Lowery wasn’t smart on his part. If the vote was made at the time she couldn’t endorse it and the state board would have voted no. She wants to review the issues and address them. NCS application is within the law. However, moral issues persist and the law must be changed. Perhaps some in CSD are at war with NCS but not me! I just have issues with the charter school law,

    #4 I don’t believe in common core standards or any one curriculum! I believe in flexibility to address various needs reflective in the school population. High poverty schools often have students struggling in reading and math. So the emphasis should be place on that need. What good is Social Studies or Science if a student isn’t proficient in reading.All school no matter what should have honors / TAG. Don’t hold all students back because some can’t keep up.

    #5 Neighborhood schools are a fantasy because there aren’t school in every neighborhood. But as you can see with Red Clay they want to make the dream a reality in Hockessin / Pike Creek. Segregation of the past was supported by law. Today we have Choice, Magnet, Charters, and students assigned close as possible to home. But the problem is, poor people don’t have adequate transportation to participate in Choice as parents have to either drive them to and from school or to a bus-stop within the choice school feeder-pattern, Magnet school like Cab doesn’t let students in that have desire bur rater talent. So if a child never played a music instrument but wants too can’t get in. If they want to be a singer but need training they can’t get in. Charter schools with restrictions are unfair. Segregation even in charter schools require choice! A former Red Clay board member says, why do they chose to attend a segregated charter school? Wilmington city school in many cases are high minority / African-America and some say the same thing, why do they choice into those schools? ( I don’t like the they word but this is what being said). It’s time to reduce the number of school district representing the city of Wilmington down to two and see what can be done to improve choice and diversity. I think perhaps a citywide school district would compound the problem. Did you know Red Clay doesn’t have traditional middle or high schools in Wilmington and those kids are bused out to the suburbs? But go forbid busing the Hockessin kids into Wilmington’s elementary schools!

    1.# 100%! I just have a problems with the charter school law particularly the 5 mile radius and the specific interest preferences. I just had a face to face with Chuck Baldwin President of Charter School of Wilmington. Just like Newark Charter School, Wilmington Charter School are wonderful! Some people many not care about the throw-away kids in the world but I do! If charters are public then the admission should be open with not peeking at applicants current grades or test score or ask if the have an IEP. But I support charters 100% as an option parents and students want. Also, I support traditional public schools the same way


  9. I was at NCS a few days ago and I was surprised to see it location, close to MD border and at the periphery of UD campus

    So though technically 5 mile radius, how much of that 5 mile actually have residents?. They should hence expand it to actually reflect 5 mile of actually habited residents ( not UD students or business).

    Then there would be a fit comparison. Has anyone given thought to the location and how it impacts the selection?. If 5 mile radius is x sq. mile, then they should have x sq. miles worth of participarting residents in the pool. Hence exclude UD area , exclude all of MD area and allocate equivalent DE area in the pool. That will probably be fair.

    Why not have it just 2 sq miles and include just the original promoters??


  10. Thanks Kilroy – all helpful except your answer to #4. I didn’t ask about your beliefs there. I asked if you think the DOE and CSD are interested/willing to implement models (including curricula) that has been proven to work in the charter schools (Proving alternatives was at least part of their mission). If they are not willing, then they have negated part of the charter mission. If they are willing, what is in their way?


  11. @Chartermom: Greg Meece is in the way


  12. I have read with interest all these different opinions. I don’t know where Mr. Mazzotta received that info on Joey Wise’s contract but it definitely wasn’t based on Baldridge material, although Mr. Wise wanted to bring this to CSD.

    I too have a problem with the NCS 5 mile radius. There radius is more like 2 1/2 miles as they are almost touching the Maryland border. I know someone who applied to NCS in Perch Creek but they missed the supposed 5 mile radius by 1 house. Seems shady to me in some respects. The underlying question in everything to me is what about the kids. NCS or CSD, it should be all about the kids and not what DOE, Greg Meece, Governor Markell, Dr. Lowery or anyone else wants. What is best for the kids? I might be talking naive, but that is were the focus should be, how we can make all schools better. Until someone wants to about this, everything else is ridiculous


    • Greg Mazzotta


      per your question, here’s an except (28 Oct, 2004)…

      “The Christina School District needs to improve in all
      of these areas. In the fall of 2003, the Community Training
      and Assistance Center (CTAC) was commissioned to
      conduct an in-depth assessment of the district’s readiness
      and capacity.

      This assessment included analyzing the readiness to pursue a pathway of systemic reform and the capacity to do so. The
      most significant finding was that the district has activity in the
      absence of an educational strategy and an associated
      implementation plan. A level of organizational inertia affects
      the district. This handicaps rather than encourages the efforts
      of schools site and central level staff to take initiative.

      This necessitates taking on the pivotal tasks of improving
      and aligning leadership capacities, budgetary allocations,
      curricular and instructional supports, data systems, appropriate assessments, and professional development services with clearly articulated goals for student achievement.

      Therefore, this charter will drive the changes in processes, people, and organization needed to support this district becoming a model for excellence in education.

      Achieving the work of this charter will add another important component to Christina School District’s commitment to achieving the Broad Prize or the Baldrige Award by 2008. This level of National recognition will establish evidence of the District’s exceptional commitment to educational excellence for urban and suburban students alike.” (end of excerpt)

      Thomas, hopes this helps in your understanding of the matter.


  13. kilroysdelaware

    Ryan, you are correct in the 5 mile radius as it does get cut off by the state line. So NCS isn’t really service a 5 mile radius.

    CharterMom, sorry for the #4 rant , just passion, As far as “proven” models this what the state / DOE needs to look at not unproven Race to The Top models. Someday we’ll see a state takeover of an existing traditional public school and conversion to a charter! I think this would be the ultimate test to prove charters can turnaround and existing school.


  14. Greg – I won’t debate the merits of ASQ or Baldrige with you. I too have published books in the field of BPM/PI/BPR/PCO and regularly Keynote at conferences.

    In short, if getting to a Baldrige program will make real and lasting changes in my kids education, then I say go for it. I remain sceptical. I think it is the long slow route. Continous improvement is not what is called for. (We have had 34 years of “continuous improvement.” We need radcal re-engineering. Selfishly, I need it fixed in 1 year for my seventh grader. What would be radical? Oh, how about making Glasgow a charter. Or closing Glasgow. Or firing the entire CSD board. Or building more great charter schools.


  15. there it is, just keep building great charter schools! They are all great right? Wow, you need help.


  16. Kilroy – Glasgow would have been a great test of that! However, High School can’t make up for a bad start in K-8. Models need to be implemented in lower grades so that the kids are brought through their entire education with those models. I saw the difference between 2nd grade curriculum at West Park (a blue ribbon school with great teachers) and 2nd grade core knowledge curriculum at NCS. (I had one daughter in each). I was able to do a direct comparison. HUGE difference!!!


  17. Howler – They are not all great. Some are worse than CSD schools. But no CSD schools are as good as Wilmington Charter or NCS. I said build great ones (Use models that work). I am not an uniformed zealot. I am an informed zealot. Pay attention.


  18. ray arzinger

    I think you are on the right track. I do not know why the traditional districts do not take elements that work at various charter schools and implement/modify them for their own schools. They could be inventing new models of the “traditional school” by combining what works at charters and what works at traditional schools.


  19. @Kilroy in response to your comment about having flexibility according the kids needs, NCS has that. ~ NCS uses Core Knowledge but the students are phased. They can move up and down if and when needed. The students in the lower phase read different books in ELA than the other phases and move at a slower pace so they can absorb and understand the curriculum. The students in the highest phase move a lot faster because they can, and are not held back in any way. All kids, no matter what their learning ablitiy need to work to THEIR personal fullest potential, no matter what that is.
    In order to model the school, I think Core Knowledge would be a great place to start. It might (probably wouldn’t in my opinion) not work if it wasn’t started in kindergarten though.


  20. Ray – exactly. If there are barriers in their way to doing that (implementing what works), I would like to know what they are, so that I can help remove those barriers.

    Howler – How could one man be in the way of implementing a curriculum that is supported internationally? Go to the Core Knowledge Foundation website. Any school or district that wants to is able to get and follow this curriculum. Mr. Meece can’t stand in anybody’s way. Just making unsubstaniated snide remarks in what was a constructive conversation is not helping. Read a book or something.


  21. Greg- I read the ambitious project charter (Hegadus). Just for clarification. This was proposed in 2004, correct? Did it get any traction at all? Was it approved? Was anything implemented?. It just looks like a charter that went nowhere. Can you shed light?


    • Greg Mazzotta

      Yes, I can…it got traction…was approved…and some
      implementation was evident. Not being a smartypants,
      CM, just that the story is such a case study as to how
      I’ve observed Delaware operating.

      I’m being cautious as to mention: names, dates, role, and responsibilities.

      Some have concluded that Dr. Lowery was recruited because
      her experience was with Fairfax Cty. Schools and that she
      had Baldrige insights and could provide them to CSD. But
      there was the matter of the CSD’s financials and conflicts
      with DOE and the Gov’s office.

      Also, please know that there have been over 12
      revisions/refinements to the Baldrige/Education criteria to date
      as well as over 1500 school districts deploying, thus
      enlarging the body of knowledge.

      In PA, foundations are funding the beginnings of the
      Baldrige criteria, in part, as a professional development, to new
      superintendents and education leaders. One of my colleagues
      is the state co-ordinator for Quality Education in the community
      colleges and using them as resource centers to transfer this knowledge…which was our aim in 2000.


  22. But as for CSD, it was another potentially good idea that they failed to follow thorough with? Would that be a fair statement? What got in the way? (Seriously, there has been a 34 year history of bungling well intentioned ideas – very frustrating to parents here) This is why more radical solutions are needed.