Is Lowery suggesting a charter lottery for minorities and one for whites?

I just dawn on me that in order for Newark Charter School to meet Delaware Secretary of Education Lowery’s charter approval stipulation to address disparities in student racial and ethic diversity, Newark Charter School might need to have a lottery for minorities and one for whites!

The outreach goal to attract more minorities has its merits but all is still subjective to a random lottery. Getting more minority applications certainly will increase the odds. Hopefully that will be the fix.

Does anyone see any other way?

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129 Responses

  1. How would separate lotteries for minorities not be discrimination?

    Does it really matter with Lowery anyway? Word on the street is she’s out.. Who will be Markell’s new sock puppet? Dapper Dan?

  2. Yea I agree it would be discrimination. Yep Lowery is leaving! However, DOE Dan does not have the legal credentials to fill the top post. Don’t think he taught for 5 years or has been an administrators for 5 years.

    § 102. Secretary; Deputy, Associate and Assistant Secretaries; Acting Secretary; appointment.

    (a) The administrator and head of the Department shall be the Secretary of Education, who shall be a graduate of an accredited college and shall have not less than 5 years’ experience in teaching and administration, with experience in each such category.

    I have a hunch that DOE Dan will be going with her or shortly after.

  3. Sorry, behind on my reading, should have known that..

    The plain and simple truth behind why charter schools work where traditional public schools fail comes down to one thing. And it’s something the dsea couldn’t fix if they wanted too.

    One thing: Parental Engagement.

    Parents of charter school students are involved, engaged & concerned about their children. They HAVE to be, else they’d never bother to submit an application on the first place. And while I’m sure there are many parents of public school students who are engaged, it’s those that aren’t, and their subsequently more than likely to be disruptive children, who create many of the problems.

    Clearly, this is a complex issue, and there are many problems that create disparities, but at the root, if you could ‘fix’ this one problem (and you can’t) things would be much more comparable between charters and others.

  4. I think that’s why Dr. Lowery was silent on how this “recommendation” will be enforced. As you stated there are two problems with accomplishing this: 1) You have to somehow convince the target groups to apply in proportion (probably in greater proportion to be safe) to the desired demographic %’s AND accept their slots when they win the lottery (not guaranteed; we just had a friend in the target demographic group reject their slot), and 2) It’s a random lottery, so the results are the results. With a well thought out and executed recruiting plan the desired school demographic could be accomplished organically over 9 years in the K-8 school and 11-12 years in the HS, but there is no way to get there in the short term without a separate minority preference lottery.

  5. The real question in regards to Newark Charter School current diversity is what percentage of minority application were submitted and what percentage made it trough the lottery. We’re into all this data tracking and its important to know this.

    Parents are the key to everything even successful PTO’s which many charter schools have. They take ownership and are valued. I hope the Newark Charter Parents take this serious and take an active role in forming the diversity plan. Its all about outreach that welcomes parents and students. If parents of color don’t feel they or their child are welcomed they won’t apply. The Free and Reduce Lunch thing that’s being correct did send a negative message. With Lowery leaving OMG the issue will be addressed by legislation that could impose changes starting the year after next (since choice and application process for this year is done). It needs to be addressed and implemented is a orderly way. I can believe the new head of the Charter Schools Network is going to dog state legislators for more funding. Bad timing and it will open another can of worms. But parents know parents best and we need to create that connection.

  6. “The real question in regards to Newark Charter School current diversity is what percentage of minority application were submitted and what percentage made it trough the lottery. We’re into all this data tracking and its important to know this. ”

    But how would you know this if race is not specified on the app. And could you imagine the skimming accusations if it were?

  7. @ Clancy O – BINGO. Why is it wrong to acknowledge this dynamic and formulate a plan to address it? Since kids in these situations require a different approach and/or additional resources to teach them, why can’t we identify them and offer them a different solution that doesn’t involve allowing them to disrupt the learning of all the other kids? If that comes across as harsh or callus I don’t mean for it to be taken that way, but it is what it is. We can’t continue to advocate for these kids in a way that hinders and holds hostage the learning of all the other kids in the public school system. Until this issue is acknowledged and addressed suffciently BY ALL PARTIES, you will continue to see a decline in traditional public schools and the proliferation of charter schools. @Kilroy – I know you keep saying changes in charter law are coming, and one big change will probably be the ability of charter schools to “counsel out” problem kids, but I still think this will be a bigger issue for traditional public schools than charter schools because these kids won’t bother going somewhere where the behaviour is less tolerated. Thoughts?

  8. The parent involvement argument is a bit tricky. First, it’s no secret that an involved parent has the upper hand in the school – mainly because they are in the “know” and have established relationships with administration and staff.

    But I have trouble assigning parent involvement as the #1 reason for success, because there are many uninvolved parents with academically successful kids. To me, academic success has a lot to do with the environment in which you were raised.

    What I mean is… Most “smart” kids are merely striving to maintain the status quo. They are simply working to maintain their lifestyle. My children – without me saying a word – know that they are going to (at the bare minimum) own a home, own several automobiles, take vacations abroad, and achieve advanced degrees. All that is normal to them. They’ve lived it every day of their lives.

    What we live, what we see every day, becomes the bar for us to meet. These aren’t goals, they’re givens. Goals go beyond these “necessities.” That’s a powerful mindset.

  9. Wow, look at Pandora going all upper class on our A!! HA

  10. The sooner we get over passing the “sins ” of the parents onto the children the better. Sigh…it will never happen.

  11. If the lottery is incapable of producing a school that looks like the community, then the lottery has to go.

    Given that, it is probably in NCS’s best interest to put the application into as many new hands as possible and get the applications submitted, and hope Lady Luck takes care of the rest.

  12. if you just hold two lotteries and apply a quota/limit to each ,that’s the only outreach needed (to hit the DOE numbers), no?

    There ya go, I just wrote their plan.

  13. Again, how do you split up the applications if no race is asked on the form? Are you all advocating race be a part of the application?

    Do you hold lotteries by ALL ethnic groups. Are you trying for one particular group, or two? Is one ethnicity “better” to attract than another?

    John, glad this issue seems so easy to you, seems like a field of landmines to me.

  14. I’m sure NCS will do some type of “outreach” in an attempt to increase applications of populations that may be underrepresented at NCS, but I think this coversation is missing something. Everyone seems to assume that this “under represented” population wants to attend NCS. Maybe they don’t, so they don’t apply. I know people who didn’t want to apply because they thought “they were fine where they were.” NCS isn’t for everyone. Even on this site, who speaks? Those who attend NCS and strongly supported the HS and those who strongly oppose because they think it will further hurt CSD. All people who care about the education of their kids – big surprise. Where are those who just do what’s easiest – go to the school their neighborhood feeds to. Oh yes, that’s right, they probably aren’t following this conversation. Probably didn’t notice the ad in the paper announcing the NCS lottery either, probably didn’t attend the open house to learn about the school, probably thought they were “fine where the were.” One thing we learned from mandatory deseg. that took place when I was in grade school (Yep, bused out to Warner at age 9), was that people didn’t want to be bussed to a school outside their neighborhood, regardless of the neighborhood.

  15. “NCS isn’t for everyone.”

    Yes it is, and it is past time to let them know.

  16. Barbara, You point is valid. However, minorities either by color or ethnicity tend to know or sense when they are not welcomed. In fairness to the Newark Charter parents they are not responsible for the current concern.

    School rating cut both ways! One, yes they are good to let parents know how successful they are. However, poor school ratings put charter schools at risk of being closed. Mike O see a possible break-point in where the percentage of poverty tips a school towards possible failure. I say about 30% you’ll see concern, 50% real concern and 75%+ DANGER. But always exceptions to the rule Poverty isn’t an excuse to fail or not teach students. However, it impedes one’s ability to learn and teacher resources to teach. Charter schools rating of Commendable or Superior do add to pride. However, it ensure survival unless internal problems such as with fiances. Surely Charter School of Newark wasn’t designed for at-risk students and not ridged specific interest like Charter School of Wilmington. It seems the 5 mile radius is the happy point, But you are correct parents need to take the action to apply. Lowery plans seems to want to impose quotas and micromanagement. Sadly, Lowery seemed so invested with working with NCS on the plan but knew she was leaving even at yesterday’s state board meeting. So much for “an honest conversation on education”.

    But I am 100% confident with CSN parental involvement the will be a workable plan that creates that balance and preserve CSN programming / ratings. Once you get parents in the door and involved you need to keep them there and obviously parents who care and take the time to enroll their kids in charter do want more for them.But let’s face it, there are “many” successful students in traditional public schools. The question is better but different.

  17. 210,000.00 year for Lowery in Maryland! I don’t think she is going to miss us! :),0,6296119.story

  18. “We can’t continue to advocate for these kids in a way that hinders and holds hostage the learning of all the other kids in the public school system. Until this issue is acknowledged and addressed suffciently BY ALL PARTIES, you will continue to see a decline in traditional public schools and the proliferation of charter schools.”

    Normally I just read and post no responses (despite many temptations). In the beginning of all this, I did post a few comments but must admit I was chased away by DDC. I will say that I have been happy to see things evolve to more normal and civilized discussions (for the most part) as opposed to how things were in the early application days. Although I must admit, I must thank DDC for making me more passionate about this issue and staying more involved. If not for her unsubstantiated attacks against NCS supporters, NCS children and the school itself, I probably would have never gotten involved. But I digress….

    After reading the editorials in today TNJ and the above comment, it gives me hope that maybe we can finally start talking about how to fix CSD and other broken districts in the state (instead of just bashing NCS and charter laws). We need to address the REAL issues here. I could write a short dissertation on this but I will try to keep things brief. In my opinion…we need to let neighborhood schools, address neighborhood issues. This is not “passing along the sins of the parents to the children” but instead allows schools to focus their efforts on the neighborhood issues/problems unique to that area.

    Parental involvement (and socio-economic class) is HUGE. You can’t force parents to fill out an application and you can’t force them to help with homework (unless you have an exceptional child, parental help with homework at NCS is critical). So if we wish to prevent passing along the “sins”, perhaps we can try a new model – we all know the current one isn’t working. Give schools back to the neighborhood and try to develop the tools and resources (including more $$) needed to help these kids. Let’s try to develop programs in these schools that address the lack of parental and family support.

    Yes, this would segregate our kids but sorry folks, the current model isn’t working. Busing intercity kids down to the suburbs ISN’T helping them break the cycle. Instead, it can often lead a child to feel he/she can’t live up to the expectations of those kids who do have good parental support. I think the focus should be:
    1. Let’s develop effective programs for helping these students. Ideally, these would be targeted for the specific needs/ issues of each school.
    I would like to see some ideas/discussion centered on this! That would be REAL progress!

  19. @ Mike O – saying NCS is for everyone is akin to saying the University of Delaware is for everyone. It’s not, that’s why we have DSU, DelTech, Goldy, Wilmington College, Widner and the Univ. of Phoenix. Some kids thrive at NCS while others struggle with the pace of learning (even at the lowest phase), homework and rigid environment. Why is that a problem? It’s not IMO. As long as the curriculum is designed to ensure kids pass the DCAS, public schools do not have to, nor should they, be “one size fits all’.

  20. @John

    Or what I suggested weeks ago: hold an opt-out rather than an opt-in lottery. All CSD students in 5 mile radius automatically entered, and if they win a slot must confirm in two weeks or the slot moves down the list.

  21. I like Steve’s idea best.

  22. @ Steve – so…how does this address the diversity issue? You’re expecting the same group who currently doesn’t fill out an application, attend open houses, etc. to “opt in”. What happens when the under-represented groups don’t opt-in and we’re right back where we started? I think whatever plan that is developed to recruit under-represented groups has to have a positive affirmation requirement. That is, after NCS puts an approved recruitment plan in place, the family and student have to explicitly indicate they want to attend the school by applying to the school. This ensures that there is buy-in on their part. If we require low-income families to fill out a F/RL form to obtain benefits, surely requiring a family to fill out an application to attend a school is not that much to ask.

  23. Patriot : I agree there should be different schools for kids with different needs. But why compare test scores? Would you compare test scores of kids going to Harvard with kids going to Del Tech.? What ‘s the point? Test scores reflect kids strengths and weaknesses NOT CURRICULUM, TEACHING METHODS, TEACHING, OR ADMINISTRATIVE METHODS.

  24. Steve, no issue. Statistically a clean lottery will yeld the exact demo as the area…..what provision for informing/recruiting the “winners”?

  25. Steve’s idea is interesting and must assume that NCS employs the same amount of administrative support people as the whole CSD does to accomplish such a feat. An all emcompassing lottery, doesn’t run itself. And of course you would have to include all children of the 5 mile radius, including homeschoolers and private school childred to have a true representation.

    Also, another school was approved yesterday to add a high school. It kind of got overshadowed by the NCS fanfare. It’s interesting that Sussex Charter, with demographics way different than its community was able to come through this unscathed and untarnished and unconditioned. Wonder why?

  26. I think just the idea of ‘charter’ school might sound intimidating to some people. I also think that some things that involve parental involvement could feel intimidating such as parent conferences, and volunteering at school

  27. Sorry, I believe that parents should still need to apply to NCS. They should have some interest in attending before they are selected. But, I believe that all parents already have the ability to attend, and that all have the same chance of being selected.

    I do not like racial quotas. Not because I am an evil racist hater. In fact, the opposite. I believe that all children, from whatever race or economic background, have the ability to succeed. I think that quotas actually take away for those people who do succeed on their own merits. No one should have their co-workers whisper that they got the job to ‘check off a box’. This takes away from the effort and ability of a person.

    I also find it extremely racist to have a system that implies that some races require more help than others. Aren’t we all created equal?

  28. How can any charter school be for any student? Isn’t the idea of a charter school to offer a kind of education that is different from the traditional one, and certainly different from every other charter? How can anyone say that DMA is for every student? I’m certain that it isn’t. And if anyone said, “It should be.” I would argue that they have no clue what they are talking about. And since DMA certainly isn’t for everyone – neither is CSW nor NCS nor Pencader…

  29. I agree Joe. I have a junior, an eigth grader and a fifth grader. Completely different strengths and weaknesses, completely different personalities. Completely different high schools applied to for the two older ones.

  30. For all those who object to an opt-out lottery, wherein every child enrolled in CSD within the 55-mile radius should be automatically entered to the kindergarten lottery each year . . . my answer is too long to put here.

    So I put it here:

    Truth in advertising: most of you are NOT going to like it. So if you’re not prepared to read something that might piss you off, don’t click the link.

  31. you got my quote right. and then you wrote this:- “Let’s also note that what we’ve gotten from all these parents is that children who are orphans, children whose parents have substance abuse problems, children whose parents are in prison, children whose parents are neglectful are to be denied a shot at one of the best schools in the country”.
    Don’t make me part of ”all these parents” when I am trying to agree with you. geez!!

  32. @Steve..not pissed off, just surprised that my words pissed you off.( I will answer you here, since this is the forum I chose to post on originally, but now I’m dual quoted!) First, my point was to simply state that your opt in/opt out plan is not as easy as it seems administrative wise. Was it so terrible for me to infer that it would it be “hard” to make sure it was handled properly? You know as well as I do that ANY shadow of doubt regarding the legitimacy of this lottery process would be devastating and cause a state wide scandal.
    Also, only in your post above did you mention it would be just for the kindergarten lottery.. In.the earlier post above you said “all CSD students in the 5-mile radius be entered in the lottery” . Forgive my confusion as this is a big difference in the amount of applications to process
    Finally, I happen to live in the lowest income area in the 5-mile radius, I am hardly opposed to opening spots for more diversity, because that would certainly benefit my neighbors, as much as it has benefitted me.

  33. Ok, so let me make sure I have this straight, many seem to agree that parental involvement makes a huge difference in a child’s success, regardless of the school. Parental involvement (by applying to NCS), or lack there of, could also explain a population that varies from surrounding public schools. So we can fix this problem by entering everyone in the lottery because somehow that will make non-involved parents be involved? Aren’t we just setting them up to fail? I’m not saying we forget about these kids, it’s not their fault. I just don’t know that NCS’s model works for them without the parental involvement piece. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for low-income or minorities, there are performance statistics that show it does work for those populations as these populations at NCS outperform there counterparts in other schools, but the parents have to be involved to help their child succeed. I agree with a previous post stating that we need to implement programs that specifically target at risk kids by giving them support they aren’t getting at home, positive role models, etc.

  34. @ Steve – Wow! Can you say “intellectual dishonesty”. You knew full well our discussion on this thread centered around the viability of the NCS lottery process delivering the desired demographic as currently constructed. You put forth an alternative that was challenged based upon past behaviors of the target group. In addition, I suggested that whatever alternative was selected should have parental buy in. Not sure how that is offensive, but please enlighten me. The second quote from me had nothing to do with the lottery and was a tangent about the real issues in public education: absentee parents and classroom disruption. Those are issues for public schools whether you choose to acknowledge them or not, and clearly a large number of parents have rejected the premise that their kid’s education should be held hostage by these dynamics. In not one post did anyone mention excluding 5 year olds, pre-schoolers or anyone that wants to learn, so it is extremely dishonest of you to put those words in our mouths. The interesting part is how you so easily generalize and twist other people’s words but don’t want anyone to generalize about why certain groups don’t apply to the school. No, for them you’d rather make up any excuse and place the blame on the school. It couldn’t possibly be That they just don’t want to attend the school. For a guy that comes across as fairly intelligent that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Keep your head in the sand while more people flock to charter schools.

  35. If it is mundane to believe in the importance of the individual, so be it. But, the fact remains that we need to stop seeing individuals as only part of a group.

    Basically, Steve, you believe that certain races or income levels of parents are not interested in their children’s education. I believe that parents, regardless of race or income, want what is best for their children.

  36. Steve… we had an even earlier conversation here about an opt-out lottery, with similar responses, like this one:

    All that is required of a parent to enter their child into the lottery is a simple name, address, etc. If a parent is “too uninformed, or too unmotivated” to complete that simple task, then yes, perhaps they don’t belong at Newark Charter…

  37. So we can fix this problem by entering everyone in the lottery because somehow that will make non-involved parents be involved? Aren’t we just setting them up to fail?

    Are you admitting the NCS system only works with the most advantaged students? That is the issue here.

    The thing is, NCS doesn’t get to cream off only children with “involved” parents. NCS is a public school and has to educate children whether their parents are involved or not. Welcome to the real world; let’s see if the vaunted system works outside the lab.

    I keep hearing an undercurrent of the idea that if parents aren’t involved up to NCS standards, the students will be kicked out. Or put euphemistically, “NCS isn’t for everybody.” Is NCS ready to make that official policy and start kicking kids out?

  38. Question: If parental involvement is one of the requirements for NCS, is NCS really a public school?

    (And while I’m fine with parents helping their children with homework occassionally, if they’re helping every night that seems like a classroom instructional problem.)

  39. Actually, parental involvement, beyond simply filling out an application, is not required at NCS. Parents are asked to help, not required. And, from my experience in Christina, parents were asked to help there, also. NCS gives parents a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, but parents are not required to volunteer.

    But, NCS does make the volunteers feel valued and appreciated. Parents are encouraged and welcomed at the school. I cannot say the same for my experience at Christina.

  40. Then I’m confused. I keep hearing that the difference between NCS and traditional public schools is parent involvement. And while it may not be mandated it appears to be implied.

    Here’s what I see as “requirements” for NCS:

    1. Completing the application
    2. Parent involvement – am I wrong in thinking this isn’t stressed to parents applying?
    3. Time dedicated to helping your child with their homework – again, is this stressed?

    For the last several months on this blog, parent involvement has been the most cited cause of NCS’s success. I guess what I’m wondering is how parental involvement plays out/is used during the application process?

  41. if they’re helping every night that seems like a classroom instructional problem.

    There most certainly is a classroom instructional problem. I am essentially doing micro-home schooling for my son in several classes, because the classroom instruction does not prepare him for the assignments. Mostly it’s not the teacher’s fault – the classes are too big and too heterogenous. I hope it gets better after middle school.

  42. I don’t see parental involvement as a requirement at NCS. I work full-time, so some years I have been able to help out more than other times. There are the parents that are always there, and those who just can’t, I’ve never felt pressure to do more than I can. For me, I like to be involved, and get to know my kids’ teachers. Especially with my daughter, I wanted an open line of communication with her teachers. Of course as my boy got older, mom needs to step back! :-)
    When we were at Downes, there was also an incredible amount of parental involvement, so I don’t see this any different. I remember there, my son had 5 “homeroom” parents in first grade!
    There are jobs to be done to help the school, so they do appreciate the help they get.

  43. @Mike….the school also runs “homework club” in the elementary and middle schools so kids have the opportunty to get extra help. This was not needed in the elementary years, but now that my kids are in the middle school, they are also able to stay in a recess with the teachers to get that extra help. I find them very accomodating. I have two kids with very different needs. My son is and has always completed homework and assignments with very little assistance, he gets our help to study for a test, but other than that he is very independent, which is lucky for us because I need help understanding his math! My daughter does require the homework club help and we do have to check her agenda to make sure she is getting her assignments done on time. Because of her needs, we have been more involved with her homework, but she does the work herself, and is starting to get more independent herself.

  44. So when are signups for the NCS Diversity Outreach Committee? :-)

  45. I made it as far as AP Calc back in the day, but even now I need to read the chapter for fifteen minutes before I can help with Algebra 1!

  46. Pandora,

    This is my experience with NCS -
    1) completing the application. That is the ‘must do’. A parent must get and complete the application. Applications can be mailed or hand delivered. Help is available for parents who cannot complete the application on their own.

    2) parental involvement. The only ‘must’ for that is the above application. However, parents are given a wide variety of volunteer opportunities (some can be done at home, some at school, some are for a day or and hour, some are more frequent). No child is kicked out of school if their parents do not volunteer. But, the school makes it very easy for parents to help out in a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. The school is also very welcoming and grateful to their parent helpers. That probably encourages parents to help out – it is always good to feel appreciated.

    3) time dedicated to homework. As a parent, I set aside a time and place for homework. The homework requirements do take a large chunk of our afterschool time. I do not hover over my kids as they do homework, but I am available for questions. I also verify that my kids have completed their assignments. I will say that thankfully our homework does not seem to be meaningless ‘busy’ work. The assignments that they have reinforce the lessons learned at school.

    I cannot speak for the experience of all NCS families, but I can speak to the experience that my family has had at the school.

  47. Good question! I’m sure we’ll hear something soon. :-)

  48. “I made it as far as AP Calc back in the day, but even now I need to read the chapter for fifteen minutes before I can help with Algebra 1!”

    Well, then you are much further than me! I’m embarassed to say I sometimes have to get my 8th grader to help with the 5th graders math! God help him if he needs help in high school!!

  49. Guys, what does the research say about parental involvement in schools and successful learning? What does the research say about classroom distractions and successful learning? Charter schools are alternative learning environments open to all, and there’s no debate about that. Whether or not everyone is interested in a) applying to charter schools and b) doing what’s necessary for success in charter schools is up for debate because I don’t know the answer to either question and neither does anyone else. Implying that they are not public schools because they have a different model for success is an argument about charter school law, not NCS, since this is permissible under the law.

  50. “Charter schools are alternative learning environments open to all, and there’s no debate about that. Whether or not everyone is interested in a) applying to charter schools and b) doing what’s necessary for success in charter schools is up for debate because I don’t know the answer to either question and neither does anyone else.”

    Are they really open to all? I’d say, no. Unlike traditional public schools, who have to make room for every child, charters do not have to grow in size to accommodate all. So… I guess I am debating that point. ;-)

    And what exactly does “doing what’s necessary for success in charter schools” mean? And what are the consequences for not doing what’s necessary? Are they different consequences than traditional public schools?

  51. @ pandora – you can debate that point, but it doesn’t change the fact that charter schools are available to all under the requirements of charter school law. What is necessary for success (besides filling out the application) is to do your work and follow the rules. Parental involvement is key to both IMO. The “what happens if not” is they stay and struggle or try a different school. Again, NCS doesn’t work for every student. Last I checked, neither does any school.

  52. @Patriot

    “you can debate that point, but it doesn’t change the fact that charter schools are available to all under the requirements of charter school law.”

    Which is a different requirement/law than traditional public schools must function under. So… are they really public schools if the rules are different? And I stand by my assertion that they aren’t available to all, since there’s a capacity issue and no legal requirement for them to expand or build a new school.

    “What is necessary for success (besides filling out the application) is to do your work and follow the rules.

    That is not unique to charter schools. What is unique is the charters capability of getting rid of students who don’t comply. I still insist that’s a powerful advantage. Which you go on to prove by saying, “The “what happens if not” is they stay and struggle or try a different school.” See how that works?

    “Parental involvement is key to both IMO.”

    So children without involved parents are simply out of luck? Or is it okay if we just let them flounder in those other high poverty schools?

    “Again, NCS doesn’t work for every student. Last I checked, neither does any school.”

    A public school’s goal should be to work for every student. If you disagree with that then aren’t you saying that NCS isn’t really a “public” school?

    Despite all the debate on Kilroy’s regarding charter law, I’m beginning to think charter supporters are a-okay with the law – mainly because the advantages in the law are the very advantages that garner their success. Controlled population = controlled educational outcomes. Hardly an educational accomplishment.

  53. Aren’t we just setting them up to fail? I’m not saying we forget about these kids, it’s not their fault. I just don’t know that NCS’s model works for them without the parental involvement piec

    I’m not sure what you mean by parent involvement exactly but I think the only parental involvement that is only really required is filling out the application. Like someone said above, you can choose to help out, or not. I work for myself so I have had years (bad economy, this year is better thank God) that I did absolutely nothing all year. I don’t think the school noticed my non-involvement.

    I don’t know this of course, but it seems to me like they could have an easier time maybe than some other schools at getting parents who might otherwise be non-involved, involved. When my oldest son started in 5th grade, it was middle school, on a day to day basis, the middle school probably doesn’t need as many volunteers as an elementary school. They don’t have parties or activities that maybe could use a parent to help with, or even for a parent to come watch or listen to or be part of. So if you aren’t really asked to come in (through emails or schoolnotes or letters home) then you might get into a routine, so to speak, of not really doing much. (and so I didn’t)

    When my other kids started, they started in elementary school. One in 4th, one in 1st. I even noticed a difference between those two grades. The 1st graders had all kinds of things going on where they invited the parents. Every month was at least one activity. Not even to ‘volunteer’ but to listen to their stories they wrote or something. By November I felt so comfortable going to that classroom, I got to meet other parents, and really got to know the teacher. She might mention while we were all there that she could use help doing such and such a thing, and it just felt so much easier to start volunteering for things. (and so I did)

    I do have experience with a CSD elementary school. It was a great school and I felt comfortable being there. They did not have the same amount of activities at the younger grades (K and 1) where they invited parents. They had some, just not nearly as many. So I never really really felt like I was a big part of that school. The parents I got to know were the ones in my neighborhood, not all of the ones in my kids class. The teachers were nice but I never got to feel like I really knew them, so I didn’t ask and wasn’t asked by them to come in.

    I don’t think it takes someone ‘non-poverty’ to want to be there for their kid or to come into a school. think it can be a very intimidating thing to come into a school to help out. I think it can be even more intimidating to go to a parent conference.
    I have a bachelors degree, I have worked in a school, I worked in preschools, I have worked with the public for many years now, and I still get a little bit of a butterfly stomach when it is time to go for a parent conference. I was intimidated to volunteer at our old school because (well because that’s how I am, don’t know why :) ) but also because as much as I liked the school and the teachers, I never felt like a real part of it. I was invited ALL the time to go to NCS 1st grade class and got to know the parents, teachers, and girls in the office so it was not intimidating to step up and volunteer or go for conferences or anything else.
    I can only imagine how it might feel for a family who lives in poverty and might not feel like their job or where they live or their clothes or their grammar or whatever, is ‘good enough’ and might feel intimidated to walk into a school to help out, or to sit with a teacher and conference about their kid.
    I think (and really hope) that any family that would start NCS and gets invited to all the kindergarten things that go on, would have the same experience that I had and react the way I did. I have a hard time believing that their are parents who just don’t care about their kid. I think that there probably are a lot of families who want to stay in their feeder schools and couldn’t care less about NCS, and so what? That might be the right choice for them, but I think there might be some who just think choicing and applications and lotteries are just too intimidating, so if you could somehow either really reach those families or include everyone in the 5 mile radius, it would be the fairest thing to do.
    I think reaching them should start with a list of daycares (homes and centers) and preschools that accept Purchase of Care (correct me if that’s the wrong title) – that would find you the daycare kids who get lunch funded just like schools do.
    I think it should not be the financial burden of NCS to find and include every kid in a 5 mile radius.

  54. Charter school education is a public good (because it is paid for by taxpayer dollars).

    An NCS education is a particularly valuable public good, because it is an effective guarantee (within certain parameters) of a specific kind of high-quality education for children (now for 13 years) that is not otherwise generally available within the 5-mile radius.

    The public good is currently allocated to a percentage of children within the five-mile radius based on a lottery system (with some statistical modification for preferred classes: founder children, sibling preference, employee preference).

    All children within that 5-mile radius have a RIGHT to be in that lottery.

    If you suggest that a child’s right to compete within the lottery for a valuable public good should be completely dependent on whether or not the child’s parents are completely capable (for whatever reason–knowledge, poverty, poor parenting skills) of making the reasoned decision to apply for the lottery, then you are in effect saying that the child does not have a right to be in the lottery. You are saying instead that children with capable parents have the privilege of being in the lottery, and that children without that advantage will not have that privilege.

    If all children’s names are entered in the lottery, a child wins, and a parent makes a conscious decision NOT to have their child attend NCS, that falls within the parent’s prerogative, but the state has done its job and insured that the child was not deprived by the nature of the process of a valuable public good.

    The distinction is that the RIGHT to have equal access to the public good that is a Newark Charter School education is the RIGHT of the CHILD, not the right of the parent or the family.

    People from NCS keep speaking of the parents or the families as having a responsibility to do the best thing for their own children, and in a purely ethcial/moral context this is true. But the State must operate the processes that dispense public goods in a manner that provides equal access to all.

    What I believe bothers NCS parents/supporters about this argument are two specific items:

    1–They see a gross injustice in a child from a family that is not intentionally committed to NCS possibly getting one of the slots in the school, which to them means that a child/family that was committed to the NCS would have been denied. Unfortunately, this is what equal access means, and it is arguable that the child WITHOUT the committed parents is the one in most dire need of the services that NCS could potentially provide.

    2–They see a danger to the continued existence of the school (at least in terms of the incredibly high performance standards it has so far set) if large numbers of children whose parents are not committed to the process enter the school and refuse to support the school’s programs and rules. This is, in large measure, what they were fleeing from CSD to find.

    Again, unfortunately, their children have no greater right to benefit from that public good if that good is to be allocated by lottery than any other child. This is an uncomfortable fact: that you are heavily involved and invested in your child’s education may give that child a greater CHANCE of success at school, but does not impart to you or your child a greater RIGHT to access the best available programs.

    As long as the valuable public good that is an NCS education is not available to all, the State has an obligation to insure that ALL children within the service radius enjoy and EQUAL chance to partake of that public good, regardless of the competence of their parents.

  55. btw, I think reaching families, having preschool teachers talking up things, not just NCS but Kumbba (don’t really know the spelling or if it starts in Kindergarten but I think so?) and other educational options. I know preschool teachers tell parents about delays or issues they might see with a child and guide the parents, they could also guide them with kindergarten options. I think it is a better and easier route than including everyone in the lottery, just my opinion but what do I know? :)

  56. What do you know? You know how to do amazingly fancy blockquotes, Pencadermom! ;-)

  57. @ pandora – your definition of what constitutes public education isn’t the prevailing definition nor should it be. There are different choices for a reason, so do away with Votechs and magnets while you’re at it. You can try to twist that into discrimination or exclusionary all you want, doesn’t bother me. I notice you still haven’t touched my comments on parental involvement and lack of distractions on successful learning. I’m not holding my breath.

  58. Parent involvenment is a bonus – and a relatively new phenomenom – and shouldn’t be used as a requirement for a child to attend a school. If it’s there… great. If not… we do not get to wash our hands of those children. Distractions should be handled by all schools – and I blame everyone for their existence. I’ll also point out that neither of them accurately determines academic success. Also, there are a lot of urban myths circulating classroom distractions.

    And what don’t you understand about the word public.

    And I get you’re new to this game, but I’ve been calling out vo-techs, magnets, neighborhood schools, public/private schools for years. But I do notice your defense of NCS is to point fingers and say, They do it, too! That’s hardly a winning argument, and – as an involved parent :evil: – one I’m sure you wouldn’t accept from your children.

    You can take a breath now.

  59. I forgot one thing, and then I am going outside, save the computer for tomorrow when it’s raining all day.
    Some kind of involvement does need to happen, for most kids, when it comes to homework. Especially at a school like NCS. They do have quite an extreme amount. Even if a kid is very bright they will probably at the very least need a cheerleader for those days when homework time lasts til bedtime. (not usually but it does happen). If it’s not parental involvement, then an older brother, sister, or extra help from the school. without help the workload could be unbearable to some kids. They do have a homework club, like mentioned above, and in- school tutoring, even during recess if needed. It is a challange and I would guess could be a reason why some families might drop out. (we were at the height of it once, mid. 5th grade (imo the hardest year of all at NCS) tears and crying and fighting about homework, my kid cried sometimes too :D, wanting to burn our copy of Don Quiote. My husband said we should maybe drop him out. After I smacked him, I then had to cheerlead him on for a while too, about the benefits outweighing the stress of homework and studying. Thank God school is a lot easier for my youngest, he is in fifth grade right now, still some nights of stress but not to the same degree.

  60. eww devil face. :D I am done speaking ‘p*&%$ involv*&%$ :D
    (just think it is crucial, or some kind of help from someone for SOME kids)

  61. In our house homework is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

    I blame late notifications of assignments and unclear instructions. And it gets worse with block scheduling.

    That’s why I’m campaigning for better school-home communication of assignments, and reform of homework policies to require clear instructions communicated to the home.

    A homework club would be good… I’ll look into it.

  62. Can anybody point me to some contact people for existing successful homework clubs?

  63. your definition of what constitutes public education isn’t the prevailing definition nor should it be.

    Then please provide the prevailng definition . . . .

  64. @steveNewton said :” Charter school education is a public good (because it is paid for by taxpayer dollars).

    I contend it’s only good, if it’s actually good. It is noit inherently good, and especially not inherently good as a result of public dollar expenditure.

    Also, it must be a net positive on the entire public education system to be called good….and that sensibility applies to ALL public schools from where I sit.

    I genuinely appreciate and agree with your post on your blog about student allocation, but feel compelled to just note there is nothing inherently good, or bad about charters. It is the systems, execution and laws that contribute to the debate most often.

  65. @steveNewton said : Charter school education is a public good (because it is paid for by taxpayer dollars).

    I contend it’s only good, if it’s actually good. It is not inherently good, and especially not inherently good as a result of public dollar expenditure.

    Also, it must be a net positive on the entire public education system to be called good….and that sensibility applies to ALL public schools from where I sit.

    I genuinely appreciate and agree with your post on your blog about student allocation, but feel compelled to just note there is nothing inherently good, or bad about charters. It is the systems, execution and laws that contribute to the debate most often.

  66. “The more I have listened to NCS parents react to every criticism (no matter how mild) and every suggestion that changes might be made to their school in the best interests of more low-income children from the surrounding five-mile area, the more uncomfortable I have become, and the more I have come to believe that all of them stopped reading their Bibles around Exodus 34:6-7.”

    wow, you really feel that way about NCS parents in general now? I have read from a lot of NCS parents on here talking about ways to reach people about the school and saying things like when the changes are made the school stay the great school that it is. Doesn’t sound like a negative reaction to me. You have only heard from a few parents.
    You probably didn’t see my neighbors facebook post encouraging everyone to vote for the CSD board election and how important it is that we all work to improve all schools and help NCS implement changes to be more fair chance to all families in the community. Her kids have gone to NCS for years and I have never seen her write or talk about CSD or the ratios of students at NCS or anything like that. It is because many of us have just recently been made aware of these issues.
    Don’t generalize all parents at the school please.
    You want to say that some words or sentences written on here has changed your outlook, then I guess I will tell you your Bible slam has changed my view on you. Guess it’s why we can’t really tell who someone really is or what they are all about by some postings on blogs, maybe it’s not really for me. Guess I’m not thick skinned enough for those kinds of slams.

  67. @John–I used the word “good” in the generic context of “goods and services,” not in the context of “really good education.”

    Sorry for the confusion.

  68. @pencadermom–It has been a gradual process. But when I read these posts on kilroy in their entirety (and by NCS parents I was obviously referring to those who read and post here), the eventual message that comes through is that expanding the possibility of getting into NCS to a guaranteed place in the lottery for every child in the 5-mile radius is not a good thing.

    There are various defenses offered for this position, but they all boil down to the idea that if a parent doesn’t take “the initiative” or show “the responsibility” then their child should not be in the lottery.

    Please show me how I am mistaken in this conclusion. Please show me where any NCS supporter has said, “Yes, every child has the right to be included in this lottery despite the circumstances of their parenting.”

    And if they haven’t said that, why not?

    Nobody has yet deal with the argument that participation in the NCS lottery should be a guranteed RIGHT for all children in the 5-mile radius as long as NCS is a public school.

    Unless, as Patriot argues, the definition of “public” is something altogether different. . . .

    If my post has changed what you felt about me, I can live with that.

  69. You are right I didn’t say it. I just looked back at the post and all I wrote was about it being intimidating to apply. I guess you thought that since I thought it was too intimidating, then screw them. I didn’t. I meant don’t make people do it. Do it for them. I was on your side. I am still on your side even though I no longer like you :) (I know, you can live with that)

    And newarkmom. She said it would be hard to do. It sounds hard to do to me too. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. She never said it shouldn’t happen either. She even told you that today but I don’t think you acknowledged that.
    So you have about 5 or 6 NCS parent posters talking about whether or not a family should have to apply or be part of a community wide lottery. You have 2 who were for it and the rest not. So you wrote a whole thing on how your thoughts have changed about NCS parents based on about 5 or 6 parents, which actually turns out to be about 3 or 4, subtracting me and newarkmom.

  70. Ah, blogging. The medium isn’t big on exceptions, mainly because it’s a given that there are exceptions and if a blogger attempts to point them out consistently the lengths of their posts would double or triple.

    In fact, Steve used your point to make his point.

    Now… about those fancy blockquotes, and will you be joining us for a drink on Tuesday?

  71. @steve
    Every child within the five mile radius deserves to be included in the lottery – if the parent wants it. Not all do. You would make it opt out, I’m a fine with that.

  72. Regarding the requirement to fill out an application – how is this so different than when parents register their children in CSD? When we entered K in CSD, we had to go to the school and register our child. It really didn’t take any more initiative for us to fill in the applications for Charter.

  73. Thanks for having my back Pencadermom! It’s nice to be heard! :-) I guess that’s the hard part of writing on a blog. the ability to articulate your thoughts so you are not misinterpreted. Or maybe it’s just easier to lump us all together without “hearing” what we’re saying as individuals., I tried to make an administrative point, not some big social statement. I will say it clearly…. I have no problem with an automatic enrollment with an opt in or opt out plan to include every child in the 5-mile radius. and I could care less what parents choose to be involved or not, it all manages to even itself out anyway, and shouldn’t determine which child gets in, and which child doesn’t. Let’s all agree that just because you may be labeled “low income” it doesn’t automatically mean you are not an “involved” parent, and just because you have means it doesn’t automatically make you a better parent. There is always more than one way to look at things, and not everybody fits in a “charter” or “non charter” box.

  74. CSD can simply provide NCS with a data-run of all children enrolled in CSD schools within the 5 mile radius, and those names can be entered in the lottery.

    Ok Steve, so NCS will have to wait until everyone at CSD has already enrolled their kid for kindergarten right? That’s where most of the open spots are. Is there a time limit for registering your kid? You can do it last minute right? So NCS should wait until August I guess.
    I was just wondering if CSW mails an information letter, in English and Spanish, about their school including their test date, to all residents of the district? If not, you really should be doing a write up about them. Or ask the parents to come on here and please explain what’s up with their messed up ratios and ask the parents how to fix it!!
    @ Pandora, I’m going to try to come :D also @Pandora, the other reason someone would leave out exceptions is to make their message sound stronger.
    @kryan67, you are right. I hadn’t even thought of that!! It’s been so long for us but I think they might send letters, not sure where they get names and address but I thought we got a letter from the district or school ?? somewhere, saying where and when to register our 5 yr old. NCS could probably do something like that too..

  75. newarkmom, I think you should go on Tuesday!!

  76. I think everyone should go on Tuesday. Bloggers meeting in a social setting is a positive thing. Blogging is great, but face to face conversation adds depth… and there’s no need to worry about spelling or punctuation! I will have a sign on a table so it will be easy to find us!

  77. Steve, CSW creams so much that you can get a 98% on the math test and still can’t even get into the lottery if you are too shy and didn’t join a math or science club in middle school. Of course, no one at the school ever heard of us, not sure if that makes a dif. or not

  78. This seems a bit ironic to me that there are so many who say that NCS’s success is based mostly on population whether it’s race, income status, etc., yet that same people say everyone should be entered in the lottery so that everyone has a chance to get into the school. If you believe everyone deserves a chance of getting in, then you must believe it is the best option for all students, not just successful because of the population. Also, when I talked before about parental involvement being key, I didn’t mean that the school requires that you volunteer in the school. They don’t. Parental involvement can come in many forms. Maybe parental support would be a better term to describe what I meant.

  79. steve wrote – ” I don’t have to include all the private school children and homeschoolers in that number, because I already know that those families are families with the inclination and resources to pursue other educational options. They have already opted out of the public school system; to get into a regular CSD school would require them to show up and register” – so people have to show up and register to get into a regular CSD school but shouldn’t at NCS? And if anyone thinks they should apply then they are, in your words, not reading their Bible and want to keep ‘those’ people out. nice, real nice. If Patriot and newarkmom and krylan67 didn’t care, I don’t think they would be on here anymore, trying to help come up with ideas and solutions like everybody else.

  80. Kilroy sorry for copy and pasting steves stuff on here. I couldn’t figure out how to respond on his blog. He discriminates against non-bloggers :)

  81. Pencadermom, his setup is difference than mine. Open the comment section and look to the right an you’ll see a comment box and instructions underneath. He doesn’t discriminates!

  82. I do not know if CSD sends a letter advising parents about the registration process. CSD did not recognize my street as part of the school district, so they did not send me information. When I went to the school office, I had to show my driver’s license and point out on the map where my home was. I’m not sure why they didn’t have my street as they knew that my development was entirely within the district. Maybe, if they send a letter, they could send a letter indicating where they should register for their district AND when and where they could apply at NCS. My statement that someone should apply at NCS was only because I know that you need to do the same to enter CSD.

    I also care very much about DE’s educational system. I might be a little peeved, after being accused of being a racist and an elitist, because those are false and horrid accusations.

    I was a third generation teacher. We all taught in the public schools. My grandmother would pack extra food, every day, so that all of her students had something to eat. I firmly believe that education is the only (legal) way out of poverty. And, it breaks my heart when I see students and families that do not understand that. But, I think that the school districts are failing their students. I don’t know why they are – a top heavy administration, union rules, and the fact that teachers are no longer allowed to discipline students all spring to mind, though.

  83. Kilroy, do you ever do posts about colleges in the area? Right now I am trying to get peoples thoughts on Wilmington College. I am not from Delaware and I went to West Chester University. I really don’t know much about colleges in Delaware. I am doing my own research but would like to hear other peoples opinions too.

  84. What majors are you researching, pencadermom? College/University choices come down to the quality of the program you want to major in. Today we finally picked a university for my son. Whew, glad that’s done!

  85. Wilmington College is an excellent college! And here is another great local college

  86. I found some of the answers I believe that were being asked about parental involvement at NCS in the Parent Agreement we sign at the beginning of each year to go along with a similar agreement signed by all kids.

    “As a Newark Charter School Parent/Family, We will:

    -support the philosophy and mission of the Newark Charter School
    -make every effort to work with the school staff to encourage the development of responsible, respectful, and knowledgeable students
    -ensure that our student attends school regularly, prepared to participate and learn
    -notify the school by 10:00 am in case of illness, tardiness, or need for early dismissal
    -review the school dress code with our student and ensure that our student follows it
    -review, support, and reinforce the Newark Charter School Code of Conduct
    -respond promptly to all calls, inquiries, concerns, and requests for information from the school
    -communicate with the school about any areas of concern regarding our student, and respond within 48 hours when the school contacts me about a concern or issue regarding my student
    -stress the importance of homework with your child; ensure homework is completed as directed
    -review and be involved in your student’s school work and report cards to ensure his/her success
    -contact the teacher as soon as concerns arise regarding school work
    -read the school newsletter and additional parent information provided throughout the year
    -participate in scheduled teacher conferences or communicate with teachers in other ways
    -actively volunteer in one or more of the following ways:
    -helping at lunch, recess, in classroom, in office. other school help (tutoring, field trips, special events, etc.), at home (stamping, cutting out, telephoning, etc.), involvement on a school or Friends of Newark Charter School committee, School Council, or other parent organizations.

    If folks are interested I can also type out the Student Agreement since I couldn’t find either of these on the website but have it in my son’s agenda.

  87. So… volunteering is required?

  88. Volunteering can be something as simple as chaperoning a trip or coming to or sending something to one of the class parties. Not everyone has time to go and help pass out milk or monitor recess, but they ask that everyone help out in some way. They don’t keep track of who does what and when, but the school helps keep costs down by having parental volunteers do whatever they can to assist. I personally haven’t been able to do as much as I would like, but before my youngest was born, I used to go in a few times a week to monitor the kindergarden recess and help open snacks for their lunch so that the teachers could have time to eat their own food.

  89. @tales

    left off the unwritten last line…i’ll add it for you

    you wrote this:

    “As a Newark Charter School Parent/Family, We will:
    -support the philosophy and mission of the Newark Charter School
    -make every effort to work with the school staff to encourage the development of responsible, respectful, and knowledgeable students
    -ensure that our student attends school regularly, prepared to participate and learn
    -notify the school by 10:00 am in case of illness, tardiness, or need for early dismissal
    -review the school dress code with our student and ensure that our student follows it
    -review, support, and reinforce the Newark Charter School Code of Conduct
    -respond promptly to all calls, inquiries, concerns, and requests for information from the school
    -communicate with the school about any areas of concern regarding our student, and respond within 48 hours when the school contacts me about a concern or issue regarding my student
    -stress the importance of homework with your child; ensure homework is completed as directed
    -review and be involved in your student’s school work and report cards to ensure his/her success
    -contact the teacher as soon as concerns arise regarding school work
    -read the school newsletter and additional parent information provided throughout the year
    -participate in scheduled teacher conferences or communicate with teachers in other ways
    -actively volunteer in one or more of the following ways:
    -helping at lunch, recess, in classroom, in office. other school help (tutoring, field trips, special events, etc.), at home (stamping, cutting out, telephoning, etc.), involvement on a school or Friends of Newark Charter School committee, School Council, or other parent organizations.

    The left off unwritten ending:

    OR ELSE…….

  90. …or else you will be forced to spend a week on a deserted island with DDC

  91. Pandora, missed your college post. Congrats for your son! My son, math and science, mostly astronomy. I have fingers crossed about his SAT score, he said it was easy, not sure what that means. I am wondering how much your SAT scores help. I hope a lot. (well haven’t seen his score but I think it will be good) I don’t even know what is considered a high score anyway. I really need to start working on all of this. It is completely overwhelming. His scores need to be high because his grades aren’t great. I don’t know how much weight that carries either. He will have a little bit on his app. as far as clubs and sports and a soon to be part time job but I don’t know what he really needs. I am probably talking in circles because I am tired right now, have been on here way too many times today, and am now thinking about college on a Saturday night, and am out of wine, blah!! Kilroy, I am not sure if he is into business, there are aspects he likes at Pencader, when he did marketing, because it was all about computers which he loves and is good at, he made a website and it was pretty good! But I’m not sure if he wants a business school, but maybe.

  92. Take a deep breath, pencadermom. If you’re able to join us on Tuesday we can discuss college – I will share all I know and learned.

    IMO, SAT scores are the big dog on the college campus – they seem to count the most.

  93. Now I’m confused because as you say I’m new to the blogosphere. We’re supposed to accept the research that says high income % is a determiner of academic success and therefore make schools like NCS more socio-economically balanced (I agree), but the research that shows parental involvement and elimination of classroom distractions are key determiners of stident success are “nice to haves” but not required. Okay. On a separate topic, RTTT is changing the current paradigm of public education, so all bets are off.

  94. I am curious what happens if a family violates the Parent Agreement. Presumably they are reprimanded in some way, but how binding is it? Can their child lose access to the school (through expulsion or counseling out) if their parents don’t comply with the Agreement?

    It would seem safer to phrase the agreement as “recommendations” for a productive relationship between the school and its families. Then parents could still be asked to sign (to show that they had seen this), but it would not suggest some kind of contractual obligation. Again, why penalize the child whose parents don’t live up to those standards? If anyone needs a strong school, it’s that kid.

    I have a PhD student at UD whose parents never sent her to school until high school (at that point an aunt adopted her) because they had serious substance abuse issues and often abused their four children, so were embarrassed to let the kids show up at school with visible bruises, etc. (How they escaped social worker intervention I have no clue.) This young woman taught herself to read, etc., with occasional parental help, and looked after three younger sibs when her parents were incapacitated. We should hardly be penalizing children in even a moderately similar situation by denying them whatever educational opportunities we can extend their way. Some (many?) of the children with dead-beat parents are remarkable, highly intelligent, determined people with incredible discipline and capacity to learn. Other adults in the community can try to step up to the plate when their parents fail.

  95. @ Citizen – I’m sure the school would work with those who don’t adhere to the parent agreement to help them comply since the parent agreement contains some of the key success factors for the school like review and be involved in student’s school work, participate in parent/teacher conf, ensure dress code/code of conduct are followed, help with homework, communicate with teacher and volunteer. I would think these are things we would want to see required in all schools, correct? Just because we can’t, for whatever reason, accomplish these things in all public schools doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it where we can accomplish it. Research shows that parental involvement and removal of classroom distractions are keys to successful learning so, similar to socio-economical balance, these are things all schools should strive for, correct? Oh yeah, here’s an idea for enhancing participation in the NCS lottery: make the application available at the same place parents register for CSD. Parents do need to register for CSD, correct?

  96. @pencadermom I did a bit of researching and phone calling for you (anything to avoid the homework Steve assigned me!) and here’s what I found out. Others chime in if my info is wrong or you disagree!

    First, an undergrad in astronomy is… well… pretty much useless. If he’s interested in this field he’ll need to go all the way – grad school/PhD/Post Doc. If he’s okay with this… then go for it.

    It also seems (again, someone correct me if I’m wrong) that he should consider the path of astrophysics combined with astronomy. From what I’ve gathered from my sources this is the most marketable path. Altho… truth be told, physics and astronomy are tough fields to make work financially. But if he loves it, it will work for him.

    Bonus: You get to say, My son, the astrophysicist.

  97. @pencadermom. First, listen to Pandora’s advice — relax and try to enjoy this next stage. Unfortunately, acceptance into a competitive college is often based on the essay — there are just too may kids with high GPAs and SAT scores (thanks to weighted classes and test retakes). And, where a lot of high school kids falter is that they have a really hard time writing an essay that showcases their essence (and, yes, I do mean essence). My son gained entrance to a competitive college because he completed a project completely independent of adults. Not only did it demonstrate a sincere interest of his intended field of study, but it showed the kind of initiative necessary to be successful at a competitive college. He was able to craft an incredible essay based on his experience, and this, combined with an interview got him the coveted spot in his dream college. Get your son up to WHYY to see what possibilities are before him.

  98. Hey thanks for the info @pandora, my daughter has been leaning towards astrophysics, she has been torn between that and genetics. I am trying not to push her towards the genetics, but she is still torn.

  99. @citizen, they don’t lay down the law if someone doesn’t volunteer, they know that issues arise in life. They don’t kick you out or punish your kid if you don’t volunteer, like I said, they don’t keep a running tab of what you has done each year. Very few families don’t do anything though. Remember one of the things you can do is send food in for a party or just coming to help the kids celebrate is considered volunteering.

  100. My advice – for what it’s worth ;-) -, talesfromanncsmom, go for genetics. My brother is an immuno-geneticist. She’d begin as a biology/pre-med undergrad. With that undergrad degree there are LOTS of opportunities and many directions to launch.

    However… she should do what she loves and has a passion for!

  101. Let’s see if this closes the italics….

    If this sentence is not in italics, then it worked.

  102. LOL! I think it was my code that screwed things up!

  103. getting ready to pull him off the couch and make him read these posts. Thanks Pandora. Why are you all slanting?

  104. ok ‘we’ are all slanting, Pandora how did you do that? you are powerful at Kilroy for sure. :)

  105. Steve:
    Public Goods are non-rivalrous and non-excludable so NCS cannot fall in that category.

  106. Steve:

    I agree with your longer post above except that I perfer to interpret equal access to a good as equal access to the good not equal access to the opportunity of getting the good.

  107. @Patriot: yes, parents do register for CSD schools. If, as part of that process, CSD schools could be compelled to provide info about other publicly funded options, that might help with diversity. It’s unfortunate that our property taxes are funneled to two separate and (currently) antagonistic school boards (Heffernan’s parting swipe at CSD HSchools was *so* needless, after the board’s recent NCS modification vote–shameful.) But if the 2 boards could be made to work together in kids’ interest, great. However, I doubt most parents register their kindergarteners in time for the charter lotteries (not even sure that they can), so something would have to be done to bring those timelines into synch. The current timing of the lottery serves private school parents, who have to put substantial tuition deposits down in March, generally, to reserve spots–they like to know by then whether NCS is an option. I think that’s the logic of the January lottery.

    You write: “I would think these [success factors] are things we would want to see required in all schools, correct?” The ones involving parent participate should be encouraged but not required. It’s just not the child’s fault if his/her parent won’t show up to conferences or help with homework. The school has to be prepared to step in in those cases and make the best of a non-ideal situation. Various posters here suggest that NCS does this, and I hope it does. If the existing “filter” requiring extra parental involvement to register a child in the NCS lottery were removed (using your proposal above, or snewton’s opt-out idea, or another one), inevitably NCS would end up with more children than it currently has whose parents don’t comply with the desired level of involvement. That’s unfortunate, but the school has to be able to work with that reality, in the interest of the public whom it serves.

    Here’s the crux of the NCS/CSD dynamic, for me: NCS has, so far, been permitted to act as a parasite on CSD. It thrives by absorbing a fraction of the most involved families (whom, we know from all the recent statistical comparisons, incl. Lowery’s, are disproportionately non-poor and whlte, b/c the poor in our community are disproportionately minorities–one factor leads from the other). This parasitism is both unfair to children who are not blessed with committed parents (or parents who can navigate added bureaucracy for reasons of language or whatever else) AND it is unfair to any child/family left with CSD as their public school option–b/c those schools are weakened by NCS’s extraction of more engaged families. If the parental-engagement filter were eliminated, this should both offer a strong publicly funded opportunity to children who could really use it but don’t currently have any chance of access; AND it should make the proportion of engaged families at NCS vs. CSD (at least in the 5-mile radius) more equivalent. Engaged families are fundamental to school health; that seems to be one point of agreement among most participants in this discussion.

    Would that change weaken NCS? Presumably somewhat (but to the benefit of CSD). Still, if NCS’s strength is that it collects engaged families in one place and educates their children, its funding public should understand that and decide whether it’s worth funding (at the expense of surrounding district schools). Red Clay families decided, at some point, that they were willing to provide a special HS (CSW) for high-achieving students. Perhaps CSD families, at least in the radius, are willing to provided a special school for a fraction of the area’s more engaged families. That’s not how the question was put to them initially, in my understanding.

    On the other hand, NCS may prove to have virtues that go beyond its parents’ engagement–in that case, there should be a mechanism for transferring those to CSD (once this truth is clearly established, by making the NCS student population more comparable to nearby CSD populations).

  108. one further, small, point about the parasite metaphor that I think makes it a particularly apt and succinct summary of the NCS/CSD relationship: it’s my understanding that parasitic organisms exploit already-weak organisms (malnourished children and so on)–not exclusively, but most often. If CSD had not been vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, through its own weakness, NCS could not have entered its territory. But it has, and as CSD became weaker, NCS grew. That’s what you’d expect, in the biological parallel.

    I don’t think charter schools have to act this way. If an existing CSD elementary were “chartered” (made autonomous from CSD board control), without changing its student population, that could be an asset to the surrounding community. It’s the filtering of more engaged families by NCS that weakens surrounding schools within the 5-mile radius. This is what needs to be changed, in fairness to all who fund the school.

  109. @ citizen – Don’t see any reason why the timing of the lottery couldn’t be tweaked to meet everyone’s needs if it would help address the demographic issue. With respect to parental involvement, it seems to me research is only relevant when it points in one direction. If the research says kids do best with parental involvement and minimal classroom disruptions and a charter school designs an approach that assumes parental involvement and a structure to minimize classroom disruption to maximize students’ potential, that’s wrong? It almost sounds like we’re saying we should limit the potential of all kids in public education because all kids don’t have involved/engaged parents and if you’re not happy with that answer you should pay for a private school eduction. How is it any different than phasing kids within a school (i.e. Basic, college prep, honors, AP). Oh that’s right, most honors and AP students don’t get any help from their parents with coursework/homework.

  110. When I was a CSD elementary parent I was not involved. When I becamse an NCS elementary parent I became involved. The CSD teachers and staff were friendly and I liked them. They did not have a lot of opportunities for parents to come join the class to hear stories the kids wrote or maybe watch some 2 minute skit the kids wanted to perform, whatever, various things. NCS did it so often that I just became part of the classroom. The teacher would use opportunities like that to then invite parents to come and help out at recess, copy papers, read to the kids, etc. That was how I started being involved. Once I had been there several times, I felt comfortable to volunteer to do bigger things like help at the bookfair, etc. If I hadn’t been invited so many times to the first grade room, I might not have started to be so involved. There might be some parents at CSD who are available to help out but don’t, for the same reason I didn’t when I was there. I just didn’t really feel that needed and I didn’t really feel like I was ‘part of the school’. – They didn’t do anything WRONG, they just never got that momentum going. Maybe a kindergarten teacher from a CSD school is reading this and can try it out or something. :)

  111. @Citizen, I don’t like how I worded that. I was involved always, no matter what school, as far as helping with homework and going to conferences. I just meant as far as going into the school

  112. So, you are not always taking ‘the most engaged parents out of CSD’, NCS took my family out of CSD and THEN I became an involved parent!

  113. Also, don’t forget about the low-income families choicing out of the district to charter schools (Kuumba, Moyer, etc.) and the fact that a disproportionate amount of the families applying to NCS and other charter schools are former private school families (i.e. were never in the district). Those two groups mute the impact of your “parasite” dynamic. Like you mentioned in your second post, CSD was weak already so it’s not like NCS caused the current condition.

  114. @pencadermom – that’s the frustrating thing. Generalizations are fair game when discussing anything NCS or charter school related.

  115. Patriot:
    Can you give me some references for the research you refer to. After I receive other references from Steve Newton, if he has not posted them already somewhere, I would like to go over some of the relevant literature.

  116. Newark I honestly forget what I promised to find you, and these threads are now so long I would never find the comment again.

    What was it?

  117. Steve:

    The references for research on school achievement you refer to on your comment:


  118. @pencadermom, your comments are very interesting. It would be useful to know how to “create” more involved parents. If that’s part of the NCS model (not just taking more-involved parents in the first place), it’s something the district schools should adopt. Again, it’s so frustrating that the boards seem to be antagonistic, rather than cooperative–but not really surprising. The relational dynamics of this dual system seem not to have been well thought out, at the beginning.

    Patriot, you’re right about the private school families (30%); still, 70% of the families come from CSD. I don’t know how many families are in the school–600 or so? So probably more than 400 moved from the surrounding seven CSD elementaries (the CSD impact data suggests a particularly large % from Downes & W. Park). And again, encouraging parental involvement is great, but requiring it is a problem (my husband’s family, for ex., were never involved in his schooling–too dysfunctional in many ways often associated with poverty & minimal education–they just did the legally required minimum. But he ended up with a PhD from U. Chicago, thanks largely to the mentorship of a few caring, public school teachers.) Why set additional obstacles to poor kids’ success? They have so much to surmount as it is.

  119. Just an FYI… during my daughters 1st 2 years at NCS I had a toddler at home and no siiter. The school said I could not bring him if I volunteered so I never got to volunteer. There were no issues. There are actually times when I can volunteer now that there is nothing to do! Hard to beleive!! When my daughter was in CSD I tried to volunteer but I was often told they had nothing for me to do!
    I agree that NCS should be a right to everyone and it is. I know of one family who didn’t want to send their kids so they never applied and I know of one child who went there and transferred out because her parents felt it was too hard for her. Unfortunately, its not for everyone.
    Would it work if the school sent an applicaton and brochure to every residence in the 5 mile radius. That way you are giving them the option, not offending them and making sure everyone is included (if they want to be). If everyone were entered into the lottery it could be a mess trying to weed through who wants to be there and who doesn’t.

  120. I heard the CSD PTSA chapters are fuming mad over the Val Haris endorsement. This is getting bad. PTA not supposed to do phoine polling and candidate support at all I hear.

  121. Kilroy, thanks for the link to the Val bashing site. Looks like she will be the one who supports charter schools. All I need to know

  122. why should we not like Rodel Foundation? do they do bad things?

  123. Other than support usurping local control and a whole plethora of policies that don’t work and leveraging Vision 2015 into having 30% of state’s PZ schools, no reason to be concerned at all.

    You are a charter lover so do your thing!

  124. Rodel is so much more than just loving on the faled charter experiment. You really should try an open mind on that…..

  125. I believe in what I see works. I like schools with rules. Rules that a school is able to enforce. Doesn’t have to be a charter school. My son will be going to Hodgson next year. I have an open mind. That’s why I asked about Rodel. I am trying to learn. I know nothing about them. Thanks for trying to help, although ”loving on the failed charter experiment” doesn’t help me much. Will continue to research.

  126. OMGindeed:

    What Charter experiment are you talking about?
    I am against the expansion of NCS and the current Charter (lack of) policy, but charter schools can work.
    If a candidate has a radical position against charters (or any other non-traditional plans) just because, I will strongly oppose that candidate.
    I agree with a lot of problems raised by NCS parents, the traditional public system is in general messed up. Besides the regulations imposed, there are a lot of self-imposed regulations (LIFO for teachers lay-offs for instance is absurd).
    That idiot from the SBE is partly right (although it was inappropriate to make the comment then) CSD has not responded to the development of charters. Although they can not provide the same type of services because of the constraints they face, that charter schools do not have to deal with, they can do much better.
    At this point I do not see much wrong in trying a more business like approach (I mean efficient, with actions supported by rational analysis of the problems and willingness to move away from the traditional way of doing things). The support of a candidate by an institution with strong financial backing does not say much about other than that institution is putting money into the education of the community’s children.

  127. Newark, when asking people who know S. Saffers about her thoughts on charter schools in general, they will not give a direct answer but just say that she will do what is in the best interest for kids. Makes you wonder. They are not her, I am just using that info. as one piece of my decision. The people I asked are a couple neighbors who I know are against charter schools. I shouldn’t have posted above that since Val is for charter schools, that I support her.. which is why I am still ‘undecided’.
    I agree with Kilroy in that some charter school laws need to be changed. I am for choice and that includes charter, votech, and magnet schools. I agree with you, if someone is just straight up against charters, I will strongly oppose them as well.

  128. The beauty of our system is that we can change it, if we want. The law that allows disruptive students to stay in that school, should be changed. You won’t have any improvement until the environment changes. That’s why parents don’t want their kids to go to CSD middle or high schools.

  129. Kilroy, I thought you might be interested concerning NCS’s latest newsletter and it’s request for parents to form an Outreach Task Force:

    Dear Parents,

    As you have undoubtedly heard by now, our expansion plans have been approved by the
    Delaware State Board of Education. A condition was attached to the approval with which we
    need our parent community’s help. NCS is to develop and implement a significant outreach
    effort to those underrepresented populations within the five mile preference area, with the goal of
    having more underrepresented families avail themselves of the opportunities available at NCS. It
    is hoped by providing additional opportunities to learn about the school, parents from
    underrepresented groups will consider applying for their children. The goal is to increase
    demographic diversity at Newark Charter School.

    With that in mind, we are asking parents to join a task force to develop such a plan. We are
    hoping that parents from the groups we are to target (African American, Hispanic, low income,
    special education) will join us in this effort, and together we can make a sincere and effective
    effort. This task force will plan the outreach activities, which will be supervised by the NCS
    Board of Directors. The whole school community can help in this important task. The plan will
    be presented to the Delaware Department of Education for approval.

    Please consider carefully if you are the one to help us set direction for NCS’s outreach endeavor.
    If you would like to volunteer or have questions concerning this effort, please contact Esther
    Jackson at 369-2001 x402. We look forward to celebrating and growing from our increased

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