The queen is sowing the seeds of school choice avoiding civil rights issue within #netDE #edude @governorMarkell

Families, children benefit from school choice Kendall Massett, executive director at Delaware Charter Schools Network, is a News Journal Community View writer

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Jack Markell spoke about school choice, specifically, the need to simplify the school choice process. I couldn’t agree more. I remember how difficult it was when I was looking for choices for my own children. I could not easily find information about all of the possible options for them, and I knew what the right options could mean for our family. I finally navigated my way through the system, but it was all extremely frustrating. This needs to change.

Simplify the Choice process? What just show up the first day of school to school of your choice? Are you talking eliminating sibling preferences? The choice process for traditional public schools is quite clear but no all schools have room to extend choice out side the feeder-pattern. 

The more difficult the process is, the more it will detract from a parent’s ability to make the best educational decision for his child. And making the right educational decision for his child will determine the child’s success.

The choice process becomes more difficult when considering charter and magnet schools have specific interest “test”. My good friend Steve has brought me to the center on the specific interest concerns. But as far as charters and magnet schools there is a level of “cherry picking”. Governor Markell  address those issues along with re-segregation via charter schools during his 2008 bid for governor. Once elected he’s done nothing to address “his” concerns. It’s pretty bad when those steering the the direction of charter schools want to build a downtown mega charter school that is nothing more than a interment camp for black children. In door playgrounds, no sports fields, questionable building safety and a logistical nightmare for school bus parking and traffic. 

But school choice only works if there are highly effective schools available as options for all students. I believe we can all agree that not all of Delaware’s families and students have highly effective school options. While we might not all agree on how, we can all agree that this needs to change, too.

Well let’s start by asking a simple question, why is it a bunch of rich white guys want to dictate the direction if education for black children whereas, the input from black parents come after the decisions are made? Why did Governor Markell and the business roundtable sit by and deface the Title 1 section 1118 when it came to Race to The Top? Once Delaware won RTTT the governor set-out to educate parents on RTTT. Title 1 section 1118 was in place prior to the charter school legislation being crafted and signed. Surely, the Title 1 advocates didn’t have any input. In-fact as the former Chairperson of Red Clay’s Title 1 Parent Advisory Board there was no communications in regards to meaningful participation in shared decision-making regarding charter schools. As a former member of the Delaware State Parent Advisory Council there was no meaning participation in shared decision-making regarding charter schools. Like anything in Delaware, rich white guys and business leaders have a brain fart as what’s best for black children!

And parents must demand that they have access to highly effective schools no matter where they live in Delaware. Parental involvement in a student’s education can increase academic achievement. School choice is the ultimate in parental involvement.

Clueless!! Yes parental involvement can increase academic achievement and that happens is the poorest schools. “School choice is the ultimate in parental involvement”. Bullshit! The ultimate parental involvement is when parents “engage” their child’s education needs by ensuring all homework is complete, plenty of rest and by going to school with positive social values respecting themselves, their peers, educators and all school support personnel even the janitor and cafeteria lady. Just THINK, if all parents engage themselves in this manner there would be no need for school choice or even charter schools. Damn Chuck! Do you honestly think she is really helping matters? 

Charter schools are schools of choice. But they are not the only schools of choice. Families can choose to stay in their feeder school, or choose another traditional public school within or outside of their district. They can also choose magnet, vo-tech, parochial or independent private schools.  

You act as if students can actually attend a school of their choice even is choice is closed to certain schools. She’ll fight for capital funding for charter schools but not a peep for funding for choice transportation for traditional school choice.

Every child learns differently. Every family has different needs. Sometimes a family has to make education decisions based on geography. Having a school close to home, work or day care is important. This is just one more reason that all Delaware schools must be highly effective options. Knowing the needs of your child and family and having the ability to make choices to fill those needs is a huge piece of the academic puzzle.

Choice options can be internal at the school level! Every school should have TAG / Honors, AP and enriched programming. Having a system like charter creates a brain drain weakening traditional schools leaving behind children whose own parents don’t engage or advocate for them. Yet blame teachers who do their best serving these children. Charter, magnet and even traditional choice schools have a level behavior contracts and if not adhered to students are ask to leave and often return to their feeder schools. Wouldn’t be fair to allow traditional non-choice feeder public schools the options to ask students regardless of parental non engagement to leave under the same terms?

When ESEA was enacted in 1965 creating Tile 1 it was meant to address the achievement gap between white and black students often compounded by the impact of poverty. William “Hicks” Anderson from Wilmington Delaware is pretty much the godfather when it comes to Title 1 parental involvement.  It was he who help secure Title 1 Section 1118 that has been defaced and disrespected by Governor Jack Markell. Nearly all the Race to The Top money is going to Title 1 schools. But keep in mind, local schools only received 50% of the $119 million dollar grant. DE DOE kept the rest to help pay for a new organizational branch within DE DOE called the RTTT / School Turnaround Office. Yet the was no meaningful participation by Title 1 parents in Race to The Top decisions.  

Just as students often fail because they lack parental support and engagement in their education, entire community fail because they can’t embrace the need to unify! Those who subscribe to the old school notion that a piece of pie is better than none at all when they are entitled to a equal slice need to step aside and allow a new generation of civil rights leaders takeover. You notice, NJ writer never mentioned, education is the most important civil rights issues of this generation. Failure of the minority community to recognize their voice is missing in decision making and it’s not suggesting minorities oppose choice or community schools. Many white people dance around the question of civil rights or even avoid the subject. Surely I could be wrong in some of my opinions but at least I know there is civil rights issues within. Civil rights conversation in regards to education reform must be part of the equation. As far as school choice the lack of adequate  transportation for many poor parents is a barrier in the choice process. Surely charter schools offer transportation at no cost but what about other choice options? These parents and their children are locked out!    

Surely minorities want school enriched with all option from honors /Tag and schools full of enriched extra-curricular programming. Schools may not mirror diversity of student population but they should mirror resources and academic offering.

Whites in the suburbs celebrated the end of desegregation via force busing! Yet the force busing continues, one way outbound out of Wilmington Delaware. New modern schools are popping up throughout the suburbs while city schools are update with new windows and heaters. The reason Red Clay has no traditional middle and high school in Wilmington is because they don’t want to create racially identifiable schools that could ignite the segregation issue de facto or not which would jeopardize the Camelot schools in the suburbs. Red Clay response to no new school being built in the city was, “they are getting new schools, charters”.

Now the Queen might see Kilroy as trying to knockdown the so-called gains made in the so-called choice movement. But when core civil rights issues such as provided by Ttile 1 Section 1118 giving parents real meaningful voice in the design, planning and “review” of academic programming at the schools level is defaced and ignored, I must speak. Decision about education are being made by those who are profiting from it. Why pay for Wall Street laced consultants when the real meaningful consultants are parents within the local schools. There was a time each Title 1 school had a school level Title 1 Parent Advisory Board. Sure now there are district-wide parent groups but they don’t allow time to address specific needs of each school building and stifles real meaningful school level decision-making.

There will be an awakening by a new generation of civil rights leaders who will see the high-jacking of inner city schools by Wall Street profiteers and their local agents as a barrier to meaningful civil rights reform. Where is the NAACP of Wilmington in regards to education? Warehousing children in schools constructed out of old bank building at the same time modern “schools” are being built for children in the suburbs with the help of school taxes collected from city residents is a slap in the face to civil rights. Pretty sad situation, some fathers sit in jail, some with their thumbs up their asses and others counting the greenback profiting from kissing the man’s ass! However, the day will come and I envision a sister leading the way and one who must avoid the Kool-aid and temptation of job offers.  

The reality of school choice is, equitable school choice cannot be until father’s of school children man-up and help take back local school via meaningful school level shared decision-making and if the men can’t do it the sisters must.  

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