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Delaware DOE Charter Schools
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Daily Archives: April 21, 2012
Somewhere along the line, we have lost our focus on what to do with the charter experience. Instead of trying to adapt and apply new ways of running a school, we often see pressure to “get back in the box” and operate traditionally. If we look at the original charter legislation and the initial draft of regulations prepared by Delaware’s Department of Public Instruction, we will arrive at a better understanding of the true purpose of charter schools.
Ron, perhaps the confusion is we’re sold charter schools are public schools and in our minds we think in the traditional way. We need to ditch the term public schools and change it to publicly funded schools. Kind of like contrast between involved parents to engaged parents. Charter schools are not public schools in the traditional way but we need to stop comparing them to traditional public schools in a competitive way when in fact rules of engagement aren’t on a equal playing field.
Delaware is in the midst of an enormous effort to improve public education. Vision 2015 and Race to the Top are doing great things with what we can do to provide a world-class education for all students but, as you can see from the draft regulations above, more has to be done with how schools operate. Decision-making must be brought to the building level. Principals need to develop the skills necessary to assume full control of their schools in partnership with their teachers and approval of parents.
Race to The Top might set the stage for more charter schools. However, Race to The Top will intrude on charter schools unique status of self autonomy. Principals are puppets of supers and are limited in their authority to be creative and empowerment. Many get to those positions by being a “yes” person even if what they are told to do goes against rational logic. Perhaps traditional schools should have school level board of directors who have a say in managing allotted school level discretionary spending. During Red Clay’s financial meltdown recovery, building administrators we required to ask permission to spend every penny in efforts to generate a surplus to pay back the DE DOE bailout.
The charter law may require infrequent tweaking. Originally, a charter school could administer its funds outside the state financial system. My board and I decided it was best to keep our funds in the state system, and I later supported a change to the law to remove that option
The law “must” be reviewed and at-best on a three-year cycle. However, DE DOE Charter School Office fails to adhere to the required yearly charter school report that helps us analyze charter school impact internally. If it wasn’t for Miss Finnan who kept dogging state legislators we wouldn’t of had a report this year! The first since Markell took office. The DE DOE charter school offices appears to have a cluster-fuck mentality driven by ego. The Newark Charter mess was a result of inattentive charter school review committee who operate their way and pretty much defaces the law and sticks their asses in the faces of those who raise concerns. HOPEFULLY, with change coming in the way a new secretary of education we’ll clean up the mess in regards to charter school approvals and oversight. Lets blame the unions all we want but, its lack of leadership in Markell’s education circus that is causing more damage.
“If districts are building new schools today to accommodate increased demand, then that rationale is no longer valid and charter schools should be eligible for capital funds.”