DSEA President gets bitched slapped by NJ’s misguided Delaware Voices

Don’t divide Delaware over charter schools: Delaware Voices Daniel Walker, Erica Dorsett and Cyntiche Deba

“The whole charter movement and NSA [Neighborhood Schools Act] in Delaware is because certain folks don’t want their kids going to school with the kids of other certain folks. Period.

It’s been a long and slow 20 years, but the deeper we go, the more we learn the “choice and charter” movement across the country is really about racism and classism.”” 

Such remarks are not completely a surprise coming from Mike Matthews, a regular critic of public charter schools who called for their moratorium. But Matthews’ racially charged and “us vs. them” rhetoric is particularly problematic coming from someone who claims to speak for Delaware’s more than 10,000 educators.

I am going to side with Mr. Matthews. My observations are, Delaware’s charter school movement was seeded by those who opposed to the desegregation order aka force busing. The charter school preference ” specific interest” was created to keep at-risk children out of certain charter schools.  And it was very white of them to allow charter schools with specific interest in serving at-risk children. This set the stage for de facto segregation.  I remember a conversation with a former Red Clay board member who said, “why do they choose to go there” in response to the de facto segregation question. Well duh ! Where do at-risk minority children go where parents want them out of traditional public schools? Delaware charter school preferences especially specific interest is more or less, go to the back of the bus.

Lets face it Delaware public school “system” is a complete failure. Notice I said “system” which is meant not to offend public school teachers including charter school teachers. It’s not their fault!

The push for improving public schools is deeply rooted in closing the achievement gap between white and black students. Creating  de facto segregation whereas ” they choose to go there” is a major social injustice. Obvious Charter School of Wilmington and Newark Charter School sit at the time of the target list of criticism because of lack of diversity. HOWEVER, I am pro school choice and I find most parents first concern is see that their children attend save schools and schools focused on educating children without distractions of disruptive students and absent parents. But the sad part is, tradition public schools can’t pick and choose their students. As far as low performing charter school predominately high poverty, parents of those students want the exact same as other choice school parents. But part of the injustice is, without need based funding at-risk children “will ” continue to fail. I think for parents of at-risk students there is a false sense of charter schools are better when it comes to academics. No matter how we cut it, there are exceptions to the rule whereas, there are traditional and charter schools serving at-risk student that do well.

Back to Mr. Matthews! From the eyes of the right he is just a union puppet. However, knowing Mike he does have compassion and true concern for all children. I agree with him re: weighed funding but disagree more money , more money. Over they last 20 years we have been $$$$ pissing in the wind via politically inspired public school reform in Delaware, Last year’s high school graduating class represented a generation of students who endure DSTP, DCAS and Smarter Balanced Assessment. The inconsistency and adjustments between these test and skewed outcome data between these test “harm” our children. HOWEVER, the biggest harm to Delaware’s Public education has come at the hands of Jack Markell.

Perhaps Matthews is taking his cues from national teachers’ union leaders. American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten recently called efforts to promote school choice “polite cousins of segregation.” But if we are going to create an excellent education system, it is not going to come about by adopting the “war of all against all” ways of Washington, D.C.

And this comment reveals the true hand of those who wrote this opinion article. Going low doesn’t help address the problem. They didn’t prove their case for charter schools.

When leaders attack and promulgate myths about Delaware’s public charter schools, they alienate and disparage the families (including those of many educators Matthews represents) of the more than 14,000 current students (and the many alums of these schools) who exercised their ability to seek other options for their children. These leaders also ignore what the public charter movement in Delaware is really about. 

When charter school advocates can’t grasp their system of education fuels de facto segregation and protects the white status quo we’ll never see true reform. There is a reason Delaware has never seen a tradition public school convert to a charter school; lock . stock and barrel. Because it would only mirror current traditional public schools.  To hold up Charter School of Wilmington as the best school in Delaware is a sad event. Yes Charter School of Wilmington is amazing! But any school that gives preference to high performing honor students will be as successful! Charter School of Wilmington lacks the staff talent to effectively address the needs to real close the achievement gap. But then again teachers choose to teach there because they don’t want to put up with the disruptive bullshit with traditional public schools. Surely Mr Matthews could have tracked to a charter school and would have done outstanding. But he understands diversity within public schools is healthy and does help prepare students for a diverse world. But now he is  the face of the “union” and certainly will defend the union way. BUT lets keep in mind, if it weren’t for unions many of us non union workers wouldn’t have a 40 hour work-week and benefits.  However, over the last 15 years benefits for non union-workers such as company paid retirement has dwindled. Union members especially state and federally union members are becoming the privilege class. 

It is about innovation: Public charters were designed to be flexible, innovative, free from non-essential regulatory and contractual limitations, and responsive to the needs of the communities they serve. With such flexibility, a group of Delaware public charters was able to create a teacher performance appraisal process that was better tailored to educators’ needs and  Delaware Design Lab High School became one of 10 organizations across the country to win a $10 million XQ Prize. 

And if you keep your head under the blanket when you fart you’ll can believe such a falsehood. The flexibility to pick and choose your children excluding at-risk students makes you a racist. Charter school student admission doors must swing the same way as traditional schools. There is no fair and equitable public school system in Delaware and de facto segregation should be address by the courts.

Ultimately, contrary to Mike Matthews’ claims, the charter school movement is not about racism and classism; it is about students. 

The charter school movement started in Red Clay by those who were bitter about desegregation aka force busing. And a few within helped pen the charter school legislation and ensured a senate seat for Tom Carper who signed the charter school legislation. The Delaware Political Star Chamber is alive and well!  Sadly there are those charter school advocates now $$ capitalizing on charter schools. 

It is clear that public charter schools are not without problems, and education leaders like Matthews are quick to spotlight examples that further divide us. But a fair observer would also recognize the longstanding issues in traditional public schools: from a decades-long track record of poorly educating certain groups of students, to highly-segregated schools, to a curriculum and teaching profession that lacks racial and ethnic diversity, to the lack of career and college readiness of high school graduates. 

So Mr. Matthews is to look down at his feet and shuffle along and ignore the fact certain charter schools alienate at-risk children? Mr. Matthews has his faults and is blinded by his union involvement at time. We need one public school system that meets the needs of all children equally and a divided system negatively impact the most neediest students. 

If that is our goal, we can start by recognizing that families and students do not care about inane debates pitting public charters against traditional public schools. They do not want more division. They want great schools. Period.

And the reason we have a society of people who looks the other way even if it is murder and sees and says nothing is because many live in their own bubble and the hell with others.

Lets keep in mind, today’s charter school parents had nothing to do with the creation of charter schools and take a beating. But it’s like! Hey I am sorry for how we got here via racist founders but it’s not our fault! We want the best for”our” children.  I support school choice including charter schools. However it is the charter school school law that is offensive and racist that needs to be changed. I see no need to eliminate charter and magnet schools. I see a need for a public school system in Delaware that is fair and equal to all students starting at school admission. And as for as those who don’t want their children to attend school with black children! Enroll them in a private school on your dime, not mine!


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