Due to academic performance frameworks, special education issues, application enrollment preference controversies, and another failing charter school in Delaware, charter schools in Delaware are being looked at in a negative light in Delaware.
According to Kilroy’s Delaware, a mandatory request was put out to all Delaware charter schools to meet with the Delaware Department of Education. As per Kilroy, the United States Department of Education is not very happy with the Delaware DOE’s method of evaluating charter schools through their academic performance framework. This has played in the charter schools favor in annual performance calculations. Because charters are stand-alone districts, many of their subgroups do not count in proficiency models due to a low number in some of the subgroups. As a result, this makes the charters look better in certain circumstances.
As well, the Office of Civil Rights has been investigating Delaware charter schools for quite a long time now. All Delaware charter schools were told by the OCR to let them see applications for two years. Anyone can look at the school profiles section on the DOE website and see clearly where certain charters are either very low in special education students or minorities. These allegations have been made against the Delaware charters as well as ones around the USA for many years now.
I am hearing from many parents in Delaware how the month of September has been the worst ever at some Delaware charters for special education. Either IEP requests are flat-out being denied, or evaluations are not being done, or already-existent IEP accommodations aren’t even happening. Students are being treated as behavior issues and not as a student with disabilities. And yet the IEP task force has had two meetings and no one on the task force is even bringing this up. Everyone knows it happens, but no one wants to hold them accountable. I guess the charters are “too big to fail”. But we have yet another charter school that has done just that. Moyer’s second chance has resulted in a failure more disgusting then that of Pencader, the charter that was closed by the state last year. Moyer had one part-time special education worker in the school.
The state legislature and the DOE have made small inroads to fixing these issues, but nothing to hold them accountable for their biggest problems. And reform bills like House Bill 165 passed in 2013, has resulted in brand-new charters, open only for the 2014-2015 school year being given bonus money under a performance fund. Yes, you read that right.
Parents are slowly opening their eyes to the fact that the great charter experiment is not as grand as they thought. Schools that six months ago had no slots open or only a couple spots left in a few different grade levels, are now accepting applications for all grade levels. Brand new charters that haven’t even opened yet have gone under review for not being able to fill the minimum enrollment numbers. But the DOE and Governor Markell, in their most brilliant idea yet (please note the sarcasm here), have designated six public school district elementary schools as failing based on standardized test scores and have labeled them as “priority schools”. Everyone knows they will probably become charter schools eventually. What most don’t realize, as Kavips pointed out here: http://kavips.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/behind-the-choice-of-the-six/they are all within a mile of a building designed to hold multiple charter schools. Maybe this can explain the look of glee on Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy’s face during the priority schools announcement on September 4th. And there was also a Delaware state senator who could not stop smiling during this announcement. It’s all on Delawareonline. Yes, these are appropriate facial gestures when your boss is announcing what amounts to state takeovers of the schools with the most dire low-income students in the state. Unless it will benefit them somehow…