Two weeks ago, the board and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy approved four new charter schools to open in New Castle County over the next few years, potentially adding 2,360 charter seats in the county. Townsend, Williams and Blevins were among 20 state lawmakers who wrote to the board before that decision voicing “deep concerns” about the amount of money and number of students traditional districts could lose.
As they voted to approve the schools, several state board members voiced frustration that applications had to be approved as long as they met the right criteria, no matter what impact they had on surrounding district schools.
“If next year we were to have 20 charter schools come before this board, and they all use this format, they will all be approved,” said member Pat Heffernan. “I just want to make that very clear to the public.”
The State board members who had reservations about approving the charter applications could have voted no! Heff is you feel the “Framework” of the Delaware State Board of Education is wrong then resigns!
“We just approved a [science, technology, engineering and math] high school in Wilmington. But what if a school nearby had just invested tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars into a STEM program?” Townsend said. “We need to be asking ourselves, is this an effective coordination of resources?”
You hit the nail on the head Rep Townsend, charter schools should not replicate existing schools charters or traditional public schools. Red Clay’s Dickinson high school has been rebuilding itself offers STEM, IB and even has culinary program.
Charter advocates believe the proposal would deny students and parents the option to enroll in schools they think could better serve their kids.
“It’s about giving parents the choice to do what’s best for their children, not having somebody tell them what they have to do and where they have to go,” said Chuck Taylor, president of the Delaware Charter School Network and former charter school head.
Chuck the pro charter school folks claims parents are screaming for charter schools yet three slated to open next fall couldn’t even fill 50% of their seats and now are under review!
Taylor said this discussion already took place when lawmakers changed the charter law last year, saying he was “disappointed” that it was coming back up again after the law had changed.
“The argument you hear being made isn’t about what’s good for kids, it’s what’s good for these districts. It’s about politics,” he said. “Make your schools competitive and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
The call for charter wasn’t about a competitive contest! Charter schools were to be labs aka incubators of innovations and in most cases charters have replicated failure when it comes to at-risk students. How about if we add school vouchers to the equation? Perhaps parents might like that option and if charters don’t like it they need be more competitive! Or we can drop back and rewrite the law and eliminate the specific interest clause to end the cherry-picking. I am for add vouchers! Let’s expand those choices.
Townsend said he agrees that competition and dynamism in the school system are important, and pointed to charters like Kuumba Academy and Gateway Lab school as places where “great things are happening.”
“The problem is that we haven’t sat down and had a broader conversation about what we can learn from Kuumba or a school like it and apply it across all our schools,” he said. “Instead, we’re just opening more and more charters. That’s not a sustainable solution.”
Right on Townsend!
Donna Johnson, the state board’s executive director, said it would be “inappropriate” for state board members to comment on the proposal until a bill had been filed. She said the board did not ask lawmakers to file a bill, but acknowledged that it “speaks directly to a concern that was voiced by multiple board members.”
“There must be a definition of impact. We would like to see a formalized rubric that we would use going forward,” Johnson said. “It should not be something that’s used based purely on emotion. Impact should be considered in some kind of research-based manner.”
She is right, the state board served at the pleasure of the Governor, Therefore, they should mimic the governor’s agenda. It’s time we elect stand board of education members and end the agenda circus of the governor.