Daily Archives: July 12, 2012

Why does John Carney support federal intrusion in Delaware’s local schools?

By Scott Gesty

Federal dollars normally pay for only about 6.6% of public education spending in Delaware, but dictatorial Federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have seriously damaged our schools instead of helping them. Regulatory compliance with US Department of Education programs sometimes costs more than the total amount awarded to the schools. Almost no Federal money reaches our classrooms without strings attached that remove authority from parents, teachers, and locally elected school boards.

Before 1979, Federal involvement in public education was controlled by a sub-section of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The US Department of Education has not materially improved student performance or school quality in thirty years, despite billions of dollars being poured into top-down initiatives every time a presidential administration changes. This has to stop.

The US Department of Education should be abolished, and the necessary funding and compliance services that constitute the Federal role in public education should be brought back under the Department of Health and Human Services. Except when prevented by statute law (e.g. special education funding), Federal funds for public education should be block-granted to the states, with a prohibition against the state departments of education taking more than 10% of the total as an administrative pass-through cost.

The best strategy for the Federal government to pursue in public education is to hand back as much authority and resources as possible to the school districts themselves.

Kilroy isn’t switching political parties but I think this Libertarian fellow Scott Gasty has the right ideas in abolishing the United States Department of Education and give control back to local communities. Not issue of charter schools vs traditional or teacher evaluation but giving those decisions back to the states and local school districts is the right thing to do. Political third parties seem to struggle in America and perhaps they might be a good means to break the two party out of control political tug of war and for sure addressing the Wall Street take over of public schools. I know one thing for sure, Delaware republicans are in bed with democrats on this Wall Street education ponzi scheme.

Romney tells NAACP he supports more charter schools

Mitt Romney addressed the NACCP’s Annual Convention and talked it up for expansion of charter schools. He also said he supports seeing federal education dollars following student via school choice that includes charter schools.

I’ve commented many many times that I support charter schools as part of school choice and my main beef is with Delaware’s Charter School Law that reflects discriminatory admission preferences. The Specific Interest preference allows charter schools to exclude at-risk students and special needs students. If charter schools are public schools the doors should be open to all children within the community. When provoked about this, charter schools cry foul saying they don’t get equal funding and capital funding. That response has nothing to do with student admission that should be fair and equitable.

Building charter schools for selected higher performing students and charter schools for at-risk students fuels re-segregation. I agree even overachievers need a special place they can learn without distraction of those who don’t want to learn or be in school. Also even for at-risk students who may not get the attention they need because the teacher needs ensure other students aren’t held back. There is nothing stopping all schools from having honors and TAG programs. However, one big factor many parents chose charter schools for their children is “safety”. For the most part charter schools are safer and dealing with discipline doesn’t consume the day and classroom learning time.

Nothing will stop parents from desiring charter schools. But in Delaware, the Delaware Department of Education has demonstrated over and over it lack the capacity to objectively authorized charter schools and more so provide meaningful oversight. Delaware governor appoints the secretary of education and the state board of education. Our public school system has become nothing more than a political puppet show catering to the personal political agenda of the governor. Every four to eight years a new governor comes into office and has wild ideas how to reform public education. Markell came into office with Rodel’s Vision 2015 plan stuffed in one his back pocket while the other was stuffed with campaign contributions. Delaware’s public schools are for sale for the highest $$$ political bidder.

Now some of you may see my comments a bashing charters but I am not. I question the Delaware Charter School laws and question deep-seeded political intrusion into our public school system.

YES Delaware needs more charter schools but we nned a process that isn’t driven to ensure more traditional public schools fail. The old Red Clay guard had an aggressive charter school agenda that was driven to serve the political agenda rather than the balanced needs of Red Clay. Dickinson and McKean took a beating because of that reckless charter agenda. I am for charters even in Red Clay but we need to be sensitive to the overall impact of all schools within.

Delaware Governor Markell refused to take his naysayer blinders off and be a realist and acknowledge the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office needs a good housecleaning and there is merit to the concerns regarding charter school admissions. As far as capital funding charter schools, there is a “simple” solution. Hopefully the Delaware Charter School Queen can continue promoting charter schools on their merits without injecting Rodel, Vision 2015, Arne Duncan, the great divider Skipp and Race to The Top.