All the media attention has been on Delaware Met, but another charter school may face the charter revocation knife in less than twelve hours! The Delaware Department of Education is the charter school authorizer for most of the charters in the state, but three of them fall under the watch of the Red Clay Consolidated School District: Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep. The last of those is on formal review, and the odds are in favor of Delaware College Prep getting their charter revoked at the Red Clay board meeting tonight.
If this happens, and Delaware Met goes down at the State Board of Education meeting tomorrow, that will be five charter schools shut down in the past few years: Pencader Business School, Moyer, Reach Academy for Girls, Delaware College Prep and Delaware Met. For a state with anywhere from 22-25 charters (it is getting hard to keep track with the openings and closings), this is an abysmal track record. Delaware doesn’t have the charter chains like many other states. Most of them are “mom and pop” charters. Most of these are serving children with needs greater than other charters.
The inner-city charter experiments are clearly not working. Sure, folks can say East Side is a resounding success, but when you look at their Smarter Balanced results, they weren’t much better than their traditional school district peers. I am not saying I agree with using standardized test scores as a measure of success or failure, but for the sake of argument, their perceived “growth” blew up with their SBAC scores. The problem is also the charters who do “perform” well. This is another illusion cast upon our state because of their enrollment practices. We all know who those players are but nothing ever changes. So we continue this game of Russian Roulette with our Wilmington students. We are rolling the dice with them and the results are horrible.
And yet, the charters with some of the most egregious financial abuses in our state stay open. Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy collectively wasted over $300,000 in taxpayer funds for personal use. Their schools are still open. Their former leaders are not in prison for outright theft. But we will bounce students around Wilmington through choice and charter openings and closings without any regard to the amount of instability this inflicts on our districts, our communities, and most of all, the students.
Tomorrow, we will know the fate of Delaware Met. The odds are in favor of charter revocation effective at the end of this marking period. The big question then becomes this: where will the students go? The last thing these students need is more chaos and uncertainty. But does Innovative Schools care about that? Not at all. They care about their bottom line, not the students.
Can someone please tell me why Innovative Schools gave a tour of the school to Las Americas Aspiras Academy during the school day? Yes, Innovative Schools MUST get a new tenant for the building. Regardless of the fact that students and staff in the school are probably having a great deal of anxiety and pressure over the pending decision by the Delaware State Board of Education. Regardless of the fact that Innovative Schools is just as responsible, if not more, for what happened at this school. For a charter school management organization, they really suck! I will have MUCH more to say about Innovative Schools…
Aside from Governor Markell, the most talked about name in education in 2015 was Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. When he took over the position from Lillian Lowery in 2012, there was skepticism. For three years, we watched Murphy and his minions at the Delaware Department of Education disengage with their stakeholders: teachers, administrators, parents, and students.
After the priority school controversy came to a head in the Christina School District, the opt-out movement in Delaware began to rise. It was around this time that both the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations had a press conference announcing a vote of no-confidence in Mark Murphy. Not long after, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators announced the same verdict.
When House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation, became a huge topic of conversation, Murphy publicly stated on the Larry Mendte hosted The Delaware Way that parents were not allowed to opt their children out of standardized testing. I remember after the debate at the Senate Education Committee, a participant who had never seen Murphy before and was not involved in Delaware education, asked me if Murphy was alright, if there was something wrong with him.
In the early part of the summer, it was revealed the Red Clay Consolidated School District was not getting their promised funding for their three priority schools. As rumors go, this was the final nail in his secretarial coffin. By the middle of the summer, Murphy announced he was “retiring”. No reason was given, just that Murphy was going to pursue other opportunities. Meanwhile, his LinkedIn account still shows him as the Delaware Secretary of Education. The Race To The Top was over, and so was Mark Murphy.