Pretty much in the minds of parents sending their children to charter schools is a better option than traditional public schools. However, those grassroots charter school advocates had motivations rooted in desegregation issues associated with the white flight after what they called “force busing”. But, this generation of public school parents seem more fixated on finding the best public school options for their children and less to do with those grassroot reformers. We have charter schools with student population near 100% African-American and charters being a choice option those families make that option. We’ve been down the road on debates as to Delaware charter school laws and negative impact. However, there are issues not related to admission rules but to school governance of charter schools that damages the charter school movement and charter schools themselves. This is what I want to discuss.
As we all know school ratings are driven by standardized tests. Delaware went from the DSTP a once year and at the end of the year test to measure student achievement. However, thanks to work of parents and teachers Delaware was able to pilot growth model assessment approved by USDOE when Governor Minner was in office and long before Race to The Top. The new state standardized test DCAS set in motion under the Minner administration is a growth model test taking three times a year. So now schools are rated on the percentage of students meeting the academic standards “and” student academic growth. So as far as student assessment and tools, teachers and schools DCAS is the right tool. But fixing the so-called broken public schools isn’t going to stop the charter school movement because parents want a say in their children’s education. Call traditional public schools broken all you want but we’re seeing a trend that suggest some charter schools are just as broken and those charter schools undermine the successes of charter schools doing things right.
The call for charter schools was meant to be part of the solution in fixing the so-called broken traditional public school system. So why do we want to keep giving bad charter school CPR? I’ve learned something is the recent blog debates over Pencader. There are some who feel if the charter school is meeting or progressing towards academic success it doesn’t matter if their board of directors mismanage school finances, appoint parent representatives who aren’t true voice / advocates for parents, deface laws governing transparency, providing no budget, no board meeting dates posted, no board meeting agendas posted, no board meeting minutes posted and no reference to budget oversight committees. Folks it is not O.K. for those governing charter schools or traditional public schools to fail at their responsibility to govern schools within legal and ethical standards even-though student academic progress is promising. And FYI, making AYP and Growth doesn’t necessarily mean students met the academic standards. Getting students to meet the cut-scores isn’t a sure ticket into college!
My biggest concern with charter schools is the “specific interest” admission provision. My concerns with Race to The Top aka the Wall Street ponzi scheme and transparency is across the board. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I support charter schools as a choice option. Would I rather have one school system with choice within? Yes!
We had bad charter schools that need to close! The charter school advocates many claims to be non-profit as if they were some kind of community volunteer fight tooth and nail to keep failing charter schools open. They do it in the background manipulating politicians whom many want to see some changes in “education” laws. I guess in their twisted minds they see closing a poorly managed charter school as some kind of admission charter schools don’t work! Yes perhaps the charter school that was closed didn’t work. However, it doesn’t mean the charter school movement didn’t work! Charter schools submit application that include a “success plan” and how they “will” meet the standards. They laced their applications with fluffy resumes of board members. They sell their applications as something that will work! I think by now we have enough charter lab rats out there to know which ones to replicate. On the flip-side, Delaware charter school law should be amended to allow “successful” charter schools where 100% (maybe 90%) of all students meet the “achievement” standards, adheres to laws governing transparency and show superior sense of ethics. Put it this way, we should reward success with greater autonomy and restrict or close those charter schools that aren’t successful.
The charter school movement in Delaware is doomed if it continues the track of allowing charter schools failing in governance and /or achievement to stay open. When a charter school is put on probation it shouldn’t get a second trial like what Pencader is getting. If conditions of probation aren’t met or other conditions that warrant probation arises the state board of education needs to act sooner than later. Moyer is another concern and Delaware College Preparatory is looking shaky. Furthermore, when a charter school is place on probation an automatic trigger should go off for a full audit by the state auditor. Currently DE DOE charter school office is more of an enabler allowing charter schools of concern to keep the shade drawn in regards to transparency.
The biggest threat to the charter school movement is lack of consistency is transparency and God only knows why the Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy turns a blind-eye to the fact some charter school elect not to put financial data and critical baord information on their web-sight. Mr Murphy take an evening at home and browse the various charter school web-sights and look at those not providing the data. If student achievement is more successful with the use of data provided educators and parents don’t you think data on school governance requirements is as important to parents decisions? Don’t you think the taxpayers have a right to better transparency? Don’t you think all schools should follow laws governing transparency? Mr. Murphy forget about Jack and Rodel! Use the leadership skills God gave you not the anointment Jack and Rodel gave you. You are a bright guy and an involved parent! Be once of us not them!