Among the other controversial and disturbing events at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting yesterday, there was a presentation by the Public Consulting Group (PCG) on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO) for Delaware Schools. This was a review requested by Governor Jack Markell last March to figure out which schools are getting it right. When it comes right down to it, this report was a series of graphs showing demographics of school districts and charters and which schools have things like AP classes and Career-Technical education opportunities. All of this is based in 2014-2015 data. This report cost Delaware taxpayers $70,000.00.
Last September, I worked with Delaware Liberal and Delaware First State in creating graphs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results and how low-income, minorities, and students with disabilities fared poorly on the controversial test. It also showed how schools with low populations of these sub-groups did really good on the test.
The below PCG reports clearly show the divide in Delaware, especially with certain charters in our state: Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School, Delaware Military Academy, Odyssey Charter School, and Sussex Academy. The result: complete chaos in Delaware. While the effect of this is not as clearly felt in Kent County, it has created havoc in Wilmington and lower Sussex County. If anyone actually believes the lotteries in these schools are random and fair, take a close look at the graphs in these reports. They select, hand-pick and cherry-pick. They cream from the top applicants. And many charters in our state weed out the “bad” students by using their “counseling out” technique. To some extent, the magnet schools in Red Clay and Indian River do this as well.
The reports give a well-crafted illusion that we have too many schools in Delaware. This foregone conclusion is, in my opinion, trying to please the charter supporters in our state. It talks about high demand and wait lists at certain charters and indicates there are too many “empty seats” in Delaware traditional schools. Do not be fooled by this illusion. Yes, some charters are in high demand because of the illusions cast by the State and the charter community on their perceived success based on standardized test scores. I’m going to call this the “smart flight” as many parents pulled their kids out of traditional and even private schools over the past twenty years and sent their kids to charters. This resulted in funds pouring out of the traditional districts while the state was slowly decreasing the amount they gave schools in the state. This increased the amount of local dollars the districts had to use to run their schools. Meanwhile, Common Core, Race To The Top, DSPT, DCAS, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment wormed their way into our lives causing even more funding to be siphoned from the classroom. All of this created a perfect storm in Delaware culminating into a hurricane of inequity, discrimination, and segregation. While Governor Markell did not influence these events twenty years ago, he certainly has been a major part of it for well over ten years, even before he became Governor.
This report could be read in many ways, but if I were reading as an outside observer looking into Delaware, I would be highly concerned. We have charters with hardly any African-Americans and students with disabilities. We have other charters with very high populations of the two. We have a Department of Education, State Board of Education, and a General Assembly who allowed this to happen by falling asleep at the wheel. We have the highly controversial Wilmington Education Improvement Commission attempting to redraw Wilmington school districts without guaranteed funding to support it. We have companies like Rodel, the Longwood Foundation, and the Welfare Foundation pouring money into charters and influencing events behind the scenes and right in our faces. We have key people in our state who are part of national education cabals molding education policy with the public oblivious to all of this. We have outside companies coming into our state, taking our money, and creating reports on things we either already know or creating illusions designed to brainwash the populace. This is Delaware education.