Newark Charter School Doesn’t Want Wilmington Black Kids Or Wilmington Special Needs Kids Going To Their Private School

Newark Charter School

Earlier this afternoon, State Rep. Rich Collins led the Delaware House of Representatives in prayer and asked them, no matter what, to put children first in their mind when they are voting on legislation.  Two and a half hours later, Collins along with 26 other state reps both Republican and Democrat, voted to keep Newark Charter School first.

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 passed the House today with 27 yes, 13 no, and 1 absent.  The bill removes the 5 mile radius enrollment preference for Delaware charter schools with one exception.  Since Christina School District has a portion of their district in Wilmington, that is not landlocked with the rest of the district, those Wilmington children will not be allowed to choice to Newark Charter School.  Even though the Wilmington students from Red Clay and Colonial can choice to other charter schools, those Christina Wilmington students can’t choice to that one school.  They can still choice to other charters within the district or even outside of the district, but not NCS.

The bill still has to go through the Senate.  By primary sponsor State Rep. Kim Williams’ own admission, if the bill did not have that provision it wouldn’t have moved forward in the Senate.  The Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator David Sokola, used to be on the board of Newark Charter School.  It isn’t really a state secret that State Rep. Melanie Smith bought a house in that area so her child can go to Newark Charter School.  Why does it always come back to Newark Charter School?

State Rep. John Kowalko put an amendment on the bill that would have removed that provision, but it failed to pass the House.  25 state reps voted no on the amendment.

I know State Rep. Kim Williams very well.  I know her intent with this bill was to get a start on changing this process.  It is better than what we had before.  But it really isn’t.  Yes, there will be a greater number of Christina School District students who will have the option of choicing into Newark Charter School.  That is true, provided the bill passes and gets signed by Governor Carney.  But it also sends a clear statement about Delaware as a state: we will allow de facto segregation.  Any time we are disallowing students from having a free and appropriate public education, we are not moving forward as a state, we are moving horribly backwards.

State Reps Charles Potter, Stephanie Bolden, and J.J. Johnson, all African-American, voiced strong opposition to the bill for the same things I am writing.  Bolden said it best.  What does it say about Delaware as a state when legislation like this comes up?  She couldn’t say this, so I will.  It shows what a discriminatory state we are to the rest of the country.  It says city kids aren’t good enough for a charter in the suburbs.  It says we vote in legislators who would rather keep one charter school from opening up to ALL students than making Delaware, the first state to sign the U.S. Constitution, a fair and equitable state for all children.

Let’s be honest here, the only reason for this legislation in the first place is because of Newark Charter School.  Taking what could be a good portion of their student population out of the picture in the coming years defeats the whole intent of the bill in the first place.

Which State Reps voted to keep de facto segregation going in Delaware today?

Bryon Short (D)

Paul Baumbach (D)

David Bentz (D)

Gerald Brady (D)

William Carson (D)

Rich Collins (R)

Danny Short (R)

Tim Dukes (R)

Ronald Gray (R)

Kevin Hensley (R)

Deb Hudson (R)

Earl Jaques (D)

Quinton Johnson (D)

Harvey Kenton (R)

Ed Osienski (D)

William Outten (R)

Trey Paradee (D)

Charles Postles (R)

Melanie Smith (D)

Joe Miro (R)

Mike Ramone (R)

Steven Smyk (R)

Jeff Spiegelman (R)

John Viola (D)

Kim Williams (D)

David Wilson (R)

Lyndon Yearick (R)

Only one Republican voted no on the bill, State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King.  I find it ironic that many of the Dems who have part of their district in the 5 mile radius for Newark Charter School voted yes.  A couple of the no votes surprised me, but I will take it.  For those who aren’t familiar with what our state legislators look like, there are no black Republicans in the Delaware House or Senate.  All of the above legislators are white.

No offense to Kim Williams, and I get her intent behind this bill, but I can’t support this bill.  I vehemently oppose it.  Any legislation that restricts a child from doing anything will never be a bill I can get behind.  Any bill that gives Delaware an ugly stain on our perception is one I can not support.  This is not progress.  This is very sad.

We need elected officials in our state who won’t follow the whims of Newark Charter School.  We need legislators who will look out for ALL students.  We need lawmakers who won’t bow to the Delaware Charter Schools Network and do what is right.  We need legislators who realize collaboration when it comes to education is NOT always a good thing.  Today was no victory by any means.  It was a horrible step backwards in Delaware.  We might as well paint a sign on Newark Charter School that says Wilmington students not allowed.  The original five mile radius for NCS was bad enough, but this… this is blatant discrimination by a public school that gets funding from taxpayers around the state.

Newark Charter School is one of the best schools in Delaware.  It is because of laws like this that have allowed them to cherry-pick their students and take advantage of the law so they give a façade of excellence.  If they truly let in any student, they would be no better or worse than the schools around them.  But they would be equal.  I would never let my child go to a school like that.  What kind of lesson would that teach him?  If he were picked in their lottery, I would tell him he won because so many kids could not.  If I lived in Wilmington, would I really want my child going to a school that practiced discrimination and segregation for over 15 years?

I would tell you to voice your opposition to the Delaware Senate on this bill.  But it really doesn’t matter.  If it passes as is, it is the same story.  If it fails, Newark Charter School still has their 5 mile radius and still keeps kids from the Christina School District out of their prestigious public school.  Any attempt at amending the bill will fail.  But the truest failure is how Delaware looks to the entire country with this one bill.

Updated, 6:52pm: I want to add one thing.  My thoughts on this bill are not a knock on all Delaware charter schools.  There are many charter schools in Wilmington who would be more than happy to take the students Newark Charter School doesn’t want.  And they do.  My main issues with charter schools in Delaware have been the very inequity I am writing about here.





73 thoughts on “Newark Charter School Doesn’t Want Wilmington Black Kids Or Wilmington Special Needs Kids Going To Their Private School

  1. I applaud John Kowalko for his courageous attempt to allow all Christina students access to a school in their district and funded by district residents.
    And I would add that it’s not so much how Delaware looks, but how Delaware is.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Why can’t our public schools compare Newark Charter? If we did a better job of making our students feel safe maybe they would be eager to learn and there wouldnt be such a backload of parents trying to send their children to Newark Charter. Our public middle schools and high schools are a disgrace. I know many public school teachers who choose to send their kids to Newark Charter. What does that tell you? Its not so much about who can get into Newark Charter as it is why we all want out of our public schools.


    1. Kevin,
      Serious question: What metric should be used to establish whether or not children are being educated to an age appropriate level if SBAC, DCAS, gpa’s, number of kids graduating, etc. is the ‘same old crap’?

      CONCRETE METRICS: What would indicate that the school/ teachers/ institution is doing its job?

      Since the schools’ business is to educate students, it should be easy to provide a concise straightforward response as to what the schools goal and success should be and it should also be very easy to identify when they are NOT doing their job. Clearly you have no faith in standardized tests, so what straightforward tool should be used to measure success of our schools.


      1. I am not necessarily against standardized tests. What I am against is how those tests are used. It should not be a measurement of everything a school is. And the Smarter Balanced Assessment is horrible. It would be like judging kids on how fast they can swim while throwing them in a leech-infested pond. I believe graduation rates are important as well as classroom grades. Standardized tests can be one measure, but not with all the test prep and inability to receive the information in a timely fashion. The very phrase standardized test became a profit margin instead of a source for measurement. I took those tests as a kid. We have become so focused on the measurement and keep changing the yardstick that we are losing track of what is really important. To be clear, I said SBAC is the same old crap, not all the other measurements.


        1. Kevin, I disagree with your assessment of SBAC. It is not the ‘same old crap’. Rather is is worse than anything I have seen in my years as a teacher. The level of questioning is beyond grade level. Concepts familiar to students are shrouded in contrived situations and a comprehension and vocabulary level that complicates what could (and should)be a straightforward item.
          It’s as if the developers had a motive other than actually measuring learning or teaching, an”Escape Room” experience for even my brightest students. Those not as motivated tire quickly and lose hope early on. For them it’s like taking a beating on the basketball court.
          The results are in such broad categories that I don’t see how they will assist me in instructional planning.
          So, I see the SBAC as a whole new level of crap. Crap that will bury our public schools if we don’t call the plumber asap.


      2. Knave;

        Although not Kevin, I’d like to give you a response from my own teacher/parent opinion.

        We need to define “age appropriate”, and also include “ability appropriate”, as we know that some students are differently abled. There’s also “culturally appropriate”, because not all students have the same cultural norms. This is the source of a lot of confusion for kids, because often assessment designers don’t consider that normal experiences for them are not normal for many. Case in point: One year I was teaching Landscaping and I took a group of students outside to do some planting. At clean-up time I instructed the students to pick up the empty pots and other things to take in for the trash. The students seemed confused, and as I looked around I noticed there WERE no empty pots. The students had planted the entire plant, pot and all, in the ground, and I hadn’t taught them not to because I didn’t think about that being a skill teenagers in high school wouldn’t have acquired.

        Looking back over the history of education in America, primarily white male children were educated, and usually then only to a certain level unless the family was affluent and could afford to have the son not working. Somewhere along the line someone decided they didn’t want only rich white men to be educated, and this opened the gates to incorporating everyone into the educational system. Education to a certain age became compulsory, with the constitutionally-enshrined expectation that education is for the public good to be provided by a public process. Students are constitutionally guaranteed a free and quality public education. Those with the means will still pay to send their children to schools outside the public sphere, with the awareness that the educational experience will be different.

        The SOLE measure of educational achievement that has been used long enough to have accurate longitudinal data is the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), and if you look at the data over time, you will see that the overall scores have steadily risen for all identified groups, and that in some areas achievement gaps have decreased. Due in part (in my opinion) to the need for people to over-quantify and categorize and label everything, the NAEP scores were artificially assigned “cut scores” for the purposes of comparing the data to the modern-day Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). According to educational historian Diane Ravitch, what we are currently listing as “proficient” roughly equates to a “strong A” in the tested subject. Incidentally, we have seen a slower increase and even a plateau in those scores since the inception of Common Core and the standardized testing craze.

        It is my belief, based on the data I’ve mentioned and other information I haven’t, that Americans have accepted an erroneous belief about education pushed in large part by the companies seeking to profit from the privatization of public education, of turning it into a business and making money from selling their services to an unwitting, overly trusting populace. The initial lie of the “Nation at Risk”, the subsequent lies about public schools underperforming and failing our students, and the continued push for creation and expansion of “alternatives” to public education has fueled the flames that have brought us to the point that people truly believe there is no way to tell whether a school is “doing its job” other than to give a test. Furthermore, many individuals have completely abdicated their responsibility for helping to educate their children, sometimes intentionally but more often just through convenience, and often not their own convenience but the convenience of others.

        It’s super easy for the business roundtable to say “raising minimum wage will hurt small businesses” but the legislature is derelict in their duties if they are not looking at the evidence of other places in America that have done exactly that and are seeing thriving economies. This would allow the bread-winner(s) in low-income families to work a normal, full-time job and be more available to their children, for instance. We live in a culture of “if that, then this” where the “this” is based on fear and no one seems to be making decisions based on data and evidence but instead on who has the highest-priced, most obnoxious lobbyist and contributes the most to the elected official’s potential for re-election. The few strong, independent-minded legislators who DO stand on moral high ground are drug through the mud, and they fight hard for re-election based on their merits as opposed to being a mouthpiece for one organization or another.

        All that said, your original question was about how we tell if a school is doing its job. The only way to know is to go in there and look. There are existing metrics by which the districts, states, and even federal education officials can enter a building or classroom and collect data to determine the effectiveness of the school in doing what it is supposed to do. When Stubbs Elementary School was labeled a priority school by the State of Delaware, the Comprehensive Success Review that was conducted showed a much different school than one would imagine based solely on test scores. So yes, non-test-based metrics exist that can truly determine what is important about the delivery of educational services and whether a school is doing those things effectively. It takes time, effort, and faith in the process. All things I believe I’ve sufficiently established that Americans do not by-and-large possess.

        If I might throw one more wrench in the gears, what students are we evaluating, and what students are we improving? We look at the data for current students at Stubbs, for instance, and we put policies in place to help the students show progress on a test (conveniently forgetting all the other inputs, but that’s a whole nother conversation), and those policies are now in place for….a new group of students. Right? There is a whole new Kindergarten class, most if not all of the upper elementary kids are gone to middle school, and then there are the natural attrition rates. And the kids who needed those supports? Some are getting them, but now they’re getting them at a different level in a different classroom where they might not even need them. So the kids themselves are not being served at the level they need because the supports we are putting in place are for such general groupings of students as to be fairly useless to the individual. And then, because the test scores are low, people say the schools are bad, and the money is being misspent, and vote down every referendum, reducing resources, further driving up class sizes and decreasing the materials we have for education, which makes educating the kids more difficult, and lather, rinse, repeat. Who benefits from this cycle? The folks who are opening charter and private schools for profit.

        Are we testing the STUDENTS and their academic growth? Or are we testing the TEACHERS and the SCHOOLS on their ability to deliver educational services? And, if we are truly evaluating the students, we need to be using an array of measures, possibly including a growth model assessment, beginning and end of year. And, if we are truly evaluating the teachers, we need to be looking at the full range of services they provide, not just a one-time test. And, if we are truly evaluating the schools, we need to be looking at the opportunities they are providing for all students to be well-rounded and successful in all areas.

        But if we’re just looking for a scapegoat, we can continue right on down this path, because that’s exactly where we are going and what we will get.


  2. NRV
    Rather than hypothesize that you are a bigot or simply ignorant I will respectfully submit these actual statistics from the Department of Education and maybe you will stop making stupid, unfounded, and ridiculous conclusions about quotas and similar idiotic guesses as to other thinking peoples agendas and motives.

    1) Special Education Students in the Christina School District comprise 18.6% of the student population compared to Newark Charter’s 5.6% Special ed population
    2) White Students comprise 28.7% of the Christina School District student population compared to Newark Charter’s 64.9% White Sudent population
    3) Low Income Students comprise 43.8% of the CSD student population compared to Newark Charter’s 7.9% Low Income Student population
    So congratulations to your “black” friend and that Special Education Student from your Sunday School class. They should feel very special or perhaps very isolated in the next Greg Meece publicity piece.
    Representative John Kowalko

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How does comparing one school to a whole district’s population make your statistics accurate? It doesn’t. In fact if you broke it out per school you would have a more accurate read. One school vs a district doesn’t portray accuracy.


        1. Newark High School = 33.5% white, 16.8% special ed, and 30.5% low income. Comparing those two high schools serving basically the same geographical location of the Newark area is pretty much apples to apples. However, it’s completely appropriate to compare Newark Charter Schools to the Christina School District because NCS IS its own school district right in the heart of another school district, thereby making it a comparison of two districts. Furthermore, the headline says that the black students in question are Wilmington black students, not all black students. Don’t know if that qualification makes a difference in the argument overall, but it IS a qualification that is supported by the evidence. Finally, the research is pretty conclusive that students of low socio-economic backgrounds, ethnic and racial minority groups, and special educational needs are underserved in general school populations (due to a lot of reasons which Kevin has posted about before and I won’t repeat here), and as such one might expect the standardized test scores (which seem to be the only metric worth valuing to many) to be higher in a school with lower populations of those groups of students.

          NCS is a great school, absolutely. Let’s raise everyone up, recognize the hard work being done in ALL schools, and share the successes so all kids can benefit, not just “mine” or “yours”. They are ALL ours, in the end, when they become the world leaders, scientists, mechanics, teachers, doctors, plumbers, thinkers, and doers of our future.

          Liked by 4 people

  3. Before you can fix a problem, you must define it. The problem is not that every child in the state cannot go to Newark Charter. One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Newark Charter is a great school. So then learn from them and use their model or the parts of it that make sense in other areas of the county or state. Everyone in New Castle County cannot attend one school and hopping on a bus for an hour and a half to get to a school across the county is a terrible idea for many reasons. People love to complain and throw stones at success. That’s because it is easier than working hard to be successful. If your mission is to help the students in Wilmington get a better education then start problem solving why that is not available to them now and work towards a solution. Don’t throw racist headlines supported by nonsensical logic at a tremendous success story.


    1. Thank you for your thoughts Jason. I respectfully disagree. Newark Charter School is a “great” school BECAUSE of steps they have taken to make their school less diverse than surrounding schools.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You lost the ability to call your disagreement “respectful” when you chose a headline that implies the school has an intentional discrimination against black and special needs children from Wilmington. They have a great school for many reasons but discrimination is not one. Again I would say define the problem you are trying to solve and work towards a solution. You are just complaining about something here with no logic or facts to support it. I see no solutions offered.


        1. Let’s be VERY CLEAR about something Jason. NCS is a PUBLIC school. Their enrollment preferences, whether they choose to accept it or not, create de facto segregation. Delaware Senator David Sokola flat-out said he would not let the bill through the Delaware Senate if there was a provision that Christina’s Wilmington students could choice to Newark Charter School. These kids are a PART OF THE DISTRICT. The US Dept. of Education issued guidance two years ago stating ANY charter enrollment preferences should be designed to help the most disadvantaged students first. Which is basically any child that would be considered a part of federal Title I funding. This bill as it currently stands is in direct opposition to that federal guidance. It is against what any true choice should stand for. It is NOT choice if it is not opened up to ALL in the school district the charter resides in. What else do you call it when ONE school in Delaware in the ONLY school district that has a portion of its district in Wilmington that is not landlocked to the rest of its district? The ONLY school this would apply to in the entire state of Delaware IS Newark Charter School. Since the vast majority of students in Christina’s portion of Wilmington ARE African-American and many of those students have disabilities, it says “We don’t want those students”. That IS intentional. That IS discrimination. Sokola wouldn’t have fought against this unless this was something that was brought to him. The discrimination and segregation of these Wilmington students IS the problem. My solution: remove ANY barriers to ANY Christina School District student from being able to choice into NCS. I can accept the whole sibling and children of employee enrollment preferences. That is logical in many aspects. But intentionally saying a portion of a school district can’t apply to a school? That is discrimination.


          1. Again I ask what problem you are trying to solve. Wilmington kids not being able to go to NCS is not the problem. Even if they could, a handful of them get in through the lottery. Does that solve the education issues in Wilmington? Not even close. And it creates a terrible situation for the student. Talk to some now adults that lived in Wilmington and and were bused to Glasgow high school. They woke up at 5am to catch a bus then got home at 6:30 PM. They often couldn’t participate in after school activities. The parents cant easily get to the school to participate. Its a terrible idea. Your fight should be to remove Wilmington from the Christiana school district and then lets find a solution to help Wilmington develop community schools that work for them.

            NCS is not the only school that has limits. If I live in red clay, I cant just decide my kid should go to North Star because they have great test scores and my local school doesn’t. Is that discrimination? We were trying to get our kids choiced into a different school because we did not like our feeder school but unfortunately the desired schools were not open to choice. Were we discriminated against?

            As a kid I grew up with Conrad as my middle school. It was like a war zone. My parents couldn’t just send me to PS Dupont instead. Was I discriminated against?

            I don’t think you are interested in solving any problems. I think you are someone who needs things to complain about. We have plenty of educational problems in this state. NCS is not the cause of any of them.


      2. The only reason NCS is successful is because they’re less diverse? That sounds pretty damn rascist. Your saying the only reason the other schools in CSD suck is because of the black and special-needs Wilmington kids.


        1. Yes. That s what they are saying, indirectly. Empty all the suburban kids into the charter schools and you have the mess that exists today. Charter schools are suppose to encourage all children to apply and a blind lottery is to be used to select students, not test scores or teacher recommendations, etc.


    2. I don’t throw stones at success. I throw stones at not allowing all children a chance to partake in that success. You are correct that not all children can go to one school, however all children should have the chance to try to go to a school of their choice. When you disallow a specific group of children even a *chance* at getting in for an nonsensical arbitrary reason (aka- 5 mile radii, or living in the only non-contiguous part of the only non-contiguous school district in the state), you are being discriminatory.

      Since 1995, we have been waiting for a report from our successful charter schools detailing what’s working for them and how it might be beneficial to expand their practices to the larger public school districts.

      22 years. And we’re waiting for that report. Or any report.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. De Mommy
    Newark Charter is located in the Christina District and is funded by Christina District taxpayers and the legislation passed yesterday continues an exclusion of access to Christina taxpaying families and their children who reside in Christina, pay the same taxes as those in the Newark and Bear areas and live in Wilmington. But I will play your silly little game. Also please understand that I am not accusing you of hiding any subliminal racism in your query.
    Here goes:
    1) Spec. Ed. -NCS 5.6% Spec. Ed. STATEWIDE (Delaware) -14.4%
    2) White Students -NCS 64.9% White Students STATE – 45%
    3) Low Income -NCS 7.9% Low Income STATE (still Delaware) -36%
    Department of Education Statistics
    Representative John Kowalko

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jason
    Everyone can also agree that Tower Hill, Tatnall, Friends and many other private schools are GREAT schools and learning institutions and produce successful students. They DO NOT RECEIVE PUBLIC TAXPAYER MONEY. They charge a hefty tuition. They screen out students that they wish to. They have also suffered dwindling student populations due to flight of wealthier families to some of the mirror image, taxpayer funded Charter Schools. A recent example would be ex-governor Markell’s children leaving the $25,000 per year tuition of Tower Hill for the friendlier/cheaper environment of Wilmington Charter. One important thing that is not replicable or transferable to the average traditional public school is admissions exclusion and tactics (such as 5 mile or contiguous boundaries) that would allow them to achieve an unamerican lack of public diversity in a public (traditional) school. And that ability and willingness to offer a non-diverse student population as evidence of success (while it may not be overt racism) still equates to discriminatory practices that are UNCONSTITUTIONAL when taxpayer/publicly funded.
    Representative John Kowalko


    1. John,
      Private schools are a separate issue. I think everyone agrees with that. I have not referenced private schools. Your response does not adress any of my valid points. Every school has some boundaries. I cant send my kid to any school in Christina that I choose or any school in Red Clay if I lived there. There is the choice program, but the schools with the best test scores are not open to choice. We toured North Star, Linden Hill, and schools in that area but unfortunately we did not live in there feeder area. What is the difference between that and a 5 mile radius? Coincidentally, you may have the statistics but I did not see too many black kids in those schools. No one is writing articles about that. It sounds like your argument is for more desegregation. That is a debate that has gone on for years and I wont pretend to know the right answer but here are some thoughts…

      1. Having inner city kids wake up at 5am to catch a bus to Newark to go to school and then return home at 6:30PM is not a schedule that increases the likelihood for success.
      2. In my opinion, parent involvement is critical to a schools success. Having the children attend a school 45 minutes away makes it very difficult to be involved. I would guess that the number of single parent households is larger in the city, increasing the difficulty. A big reason to have local schools.
      3. The challenges that inner city kids face is different than what a Newark or Hockessin kid may face. Schools should be funded and tailored to meet those challenges. What makes a Newark school succeed may not make a Wilmington kid succeed. That is not a racist comment either, it is acknowledging our children face different challenges and there are likely subsets of these differences within the city itself (and outside the city for that matter), that may require different educational needs.
      4. I agree with you that mixing children from all backgrounds helps diversify there thinking and there is value to that. I’m not sure how you accomplish that in a school while also dealing with some of the problems listed above. I’m sure there are many others as well, I’m just a parent and someone who lived through Delaware public schools.
      5. I keep seeing the argument that every child should have a chance to attend a good school. I think everyone will agree with that.

      This brings me back to my original point. What is the problem? NCS being successful is not the problem its part of a solution. So do we need more good schools? Or is the problem not the schools and the lack of good parenting. Maybe a combination of the two? Are there other factors? Im sure there are… Start that discussion, don’t just pick on the success because you know it is a hot button that will get you votes. If you truly want to help than start problem solving.


      1. John,
        You CAN send your kid to any school in any district in the entire state. School choice in Delaware means if you can get them there, they can apply to go there. Of course, every school has a maximum number of students it can take, and the school HAS to take the students already in its existing feeder. The difference is that a 5 mile radius is an artificial construct designed to alleviate certain problems, like increased transportation costs. My kids DO go to Linden Hill, because when we bought our house that was the feeder school. They would have gone to Warner, but between when we bought the house and when we had school-aged kids the feeder patterns were changed. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a comprehensive neighborhood school system, but choice is a competing law. In a straight neighborhood school system, you would move to a neighborhood near the school you wanted your students to attend. If you can’t do that, then you will choice to wherever you can, knowing that where you chose to live outweighs where you want your kids to go to school. OR, as in the scenario Kevin (and some of the rest of us) are trying to illuminate, you CAN’T live in that area due to cost (or similar factor), which is where the concern specific to Wilmington students arises. And yes, Wilmington city students CAN choice and ARE limited by lots of things kids in many suburban areas are not limited by. And yes, Wilmington kids tend to be from low socio-economic backgrounds and ethnic and racial minority groups. Furthermore, with the nation’s emphasis on closing “poorly performing schools” rather than comprehensively evaluate them and provide meaningful supports, city schools nationwide are fluid and fleeting, whether public or charter. And on THOSE topics, people write LOTS of posts.

        “1. Having inner city kids wake up at 5am to catch a bus to Newark to go to school and then return home at 6:30PM is not a schedule that increases the likelihood for success.”
        -While probably true, that is a factor of court ruling, not district preference. Pressure needs to be placed on the legislature to fund recommendations from the WEIC work and do what’s right for kids.

        “2. In my opinion, parent involvement is critical to a schools success. Having the children attend a school 45 minutes away makes it very difficult to be involved. I would guess that the number of single parent households is larger in the city, increasing the difficulty. A big reason to have local schools.”
        -To further complicate this, even if we DID have neighborhood schools in the city, many of these parents are working multiple jobs to keep their families afloat and won’t be attending traditional school events regardless. Additionally, in many cultures, coming to school isn’t how support for education is expressed. It’s important to know the people and their actual needs.

        “3. The challenges that inner city kids face is different than what a Newark or Hockessin kid may face. Schools should be funded and tailored to meet those challenges. What makes a Newark school succeed may not make a Wilmington kid succeed. That is not a racist comment either, it is acknowledging our children face different challenges and there are likely subsets of these differences within the city itself (and outside the city for that matter), that may require different educational needs.”
        -There is a huge movement, including with the much-maligned teacher’s unions, to address the needs of students who face adverse childhood experiences ACEs). To name the major ones, we are trained in trauma-informed, compassionate, and restorative school practices, but there is rarely the funding given or support provided for these things to truly take root and flourish. Not to mention that if the test scores don’t immediately (and I mean IMMEDIATELY) increase, the funding is pulled, the school is targeted for closure, and the rug is pulled out from under the kids yet again, making things even less stable and more difficult for them. It’s dangerous, however, to assume that certain kids will need certain supports. I’m a white female from a middle class family in Smyrna who has 6 ACEs, which puts me at HIGH risk for not being successful in life, despite my race and soci-economic background. You can find the ACE test online if you’re interested in seeing your score, incidentally.

        “4. I agree with you that mixing children from all backgrounds helps diversify there thinking and there is value to that. I’m not sure how you accomplish that in a school while also dealing with some of the problems listed above. I’m sure there are many others as well, I’m just a parent and someone who lived through Delaware public schools.”
        -Having diverse schools is integral to providing the social interactions and facilitating compassion and understanding among people that are necessary for humanity to progress. I’m right there with you on this, but it isn’t about accomplishing that and dealing with other problems, it’s about flipping the system so the needs of kids are met, and we are currently hideously under-resourced for that initiative.

        “5. I keep seeing the argument that every child should have a chance to attend a good school. I think everyone will agree with that.”
        -I don’t agree, actually. I think the metric for evaluating what it means to be a “good school” is crap, and we hide behind it because it’s easier than actually digging in and seeing that this is a complex issue without a simple solution. I think every child should have a chance to attend a school where there is a basic level of services that provide the opportunity for the students to be well-rounded and appropriately developed, which includes (at a minimum) arts, music, humanities, physical education, health, world languages, career and technical education opportunities, librarians, nurses, mental health professionals, guidance counselors, educational diagnosticians, psychologists, support professionals of every kind, and a robust extra-curricular program that includes athletics and academic support. And guess what are the VERY first things that are cut in EVERY school targeted under the crap metric of standardized testing for “improvement”? What does it say about the priorities of our society that we can’t get all those things in our publicly-funded public schools???? Furthermore, and this is where my personal pet peeve is, why is it ok, even recommended, in our society to remove our kids from the “failing” system rather than stay and make it better???????? Where’s the care and love for the children of the people who aren’t as privileged as “us”?

        Lots of us HAVE been problem solving. Thank you for affording people like me the opportunity to hear and address your concerns. The points I’ve made in response to you are all points I’ve raised (or that have been raised by others) with legislators and policy makers. It isn’t easy and it takes time, money, and perseverance, and in my opinion that’s why we aren’t seeing it happen. Thank you for coming to the table with your thoughts. Sincerely. It is not my intention to come across as mean or snarky in my comments, by the way, and I would love to talk more with you about this topic off-line if you were ever so inclined. I am often accused of being angry and off-putting when I get passionate about something, a trait I’m working to bring under control, but writing is often tougher to communicate without the benefit of the nonverbal aspects.



        1. Jackie,

          You responded to me not John. That was my response to him. I liked your response and agree with most of your points. I don’t think John would… I’m just a normal dude with kids, not a politician or a teacher. 🙂



  6. You are just a loud mouth liberal. Have you ever stepped into that school and even looked around over half the school is multicultural. And not every student there is A student’s. I know quite a fee that struggle on a day to day, but the school parts hard work into those students to help them. And they wanted to stay a neighbourhood school hence newark. Making sure families can be close to each other, as that’s a big part of the school. Being close helps the kids be able to help each other. Your just a bunch of whiny people that kids probably didn’t get in, with the lottery system they use. My child was 200+ on the kindergarten wait list and you didn’t see me bashing the school. Just get to try again. It’s also a money issue bc charter schools don’t get as much as public schools do, sad that there graders are higher then public school and they get less money. I don’t act like I know the whole ends and outs, but it’s simple to see. It’s not like they cherry pick kids, I have been to the lottery. I know some charters in delaware you have to pass an interview to get in.


  7. Actually Charter schools get as much money as traditional schools (they are both public) per student and in addition, charters have access to additional funding not available to traditional schools.
    Representative John Kowalko

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Rep. Kowalko,

    It astonishe me that your primary concern seems to be people not living in your district. Rather than focusing your energy on dismantling NCS, why don’t I hear you demanding higher standards from the Christina schools that serve your actual constituents?

    Rather than forcing your constituents out of the charter and back into the unacceptable Christina schools, why don’t you draw them back into the CSD with better schools?

    For those of us in Newark, NCS is our only alternative option, created by Newark families. Spoken as someone with a daughter who can’t get in.

    Shame on you. Represent your constituents. Not your ego’s agenda.


  9. Kelly,
    I will not try to judge your attitude or intentions toward the poorer and less fortunate (mostly black) Wilmington students and their families. I will, however, be quite willing to read some of your groups past postings (when Nagorski announced to run against me) on a certain exclusive facebook site titled “NCS parent”s regarding “THOSE PEOPLE” in Wilmington.
    1) K.S.G. wrote: Kowalko always says he is the voice of his constituents…he doesn’t seem to realize that those inner city kids are not his constituents” or
    2) L.D.B. wrote: “You are so right. When we reached out to him several years ago to support NCS he told us he needed to look out for the students in Wilmington”…”we told him his priorities should be his constituents…he needs to go”
    Well to Kelly and your fellow facebook posters, please know one thing for sure. I am elected to the office of Representative of the State of Delaware and I will represent all of the people, families and children of all of Delaware. That includes Newark, Dover, Wilmington, Georgetown, Milford and every town and family in between. And I will not and never will favor one group’s or school’s interests over another if it causes harm to the other or denies them an equal right to services and access to all publicly funded entities. If that doesn’t satisfy your selfishness than I suggest you run for office and let the public be fully aware that you intend to pick and choose who you will represent and to hell with fairness, justice equal rights, equal services etc. I certainly would be ashamed to feel the way so many of you feel toward others. Have a good nights sleep. I know damn well I will.
    State Representative John A. Kowalko Jr.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. John,
      That is shameful to twist a parents disappointment in there representative into a racist remark.

      Do you have an educational solution for the state? Surely every child in the state can not attend NCS so even if the school was open to the entire state we still have the same problem. So instead of picking on Newark Charter please point me to your comprehensive plan that will give every student in the state an excellent education and blue ribbon results in the inner city. We are hyper focused on NCS. What is your total solution for our educational issues. Please just send me the hyperlink to your comprehensive plan for education reform that will maintain the high standards some have achieved will rising up those areas that have not had the same success. Maybe if I can review your big picture plan I can understand some of your points. Right now everything you say sounds like a politician feeding off of a hot topic, with real solution to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Why does every school have to match the demographics perfectly or at least somewhat close. IMO what makes this great is the diversity of schools we have in New Castle County. Each school offers something different than the others and allows parents to choose which school fits their children the best. If you would not send your kids there then that is fine; that is your opinion. Yet, if every school was the same and offered the same academics and programs than students and adults would not have much of a choice of where to attend. These statistics just tell me that Newark Charter, like Wilmington Charter, is priding itself on academics and have high standards for who is let in. Therefore, let the “statistics” fall in place. The statistics that should be shown for such school should be the grades and referral rates of the students they are letting in. Now, if you have white students getting into this school whom have lower grades and more referrals than a black student, then you may make a case. Yet, I believe the numbers are what they are based upon academic performance. So, is Newark Charter a great school for special needs students? It seems like it is not. But that is okay as there are a plethora of other schools in NCC that are where these students can attend and receive the aid that is needed. The point is diversity academically and socially within our schools is a good thing as it allows students and parents to choose what school fits them the most.


    1. This would all be great if it were, I don’t know, 1957 Nick! It is statements like this that are great for a private school, where parents pay tuition. They don’t have to follow the same laws public schools do. I’m proud to say I support public education and I value choice, but not THAT kind of choice.


  11. My daughter is in private school, at the time she started attending school she 4, there were less charter schools then than now…! I was unable to send my daughter to Newark Charter because I live outside the 5 mile radius…I live in Bear in a neighborhood that serves both colonial school district and christina school district( depends on which side of the street you live on). Maybe the 5 mile radius should be removed to allow all students not just Wilmington students to apply. Newark Charter still has a lottery…the only thing I see happening if this were to be removed is a longer waitlist of children waiting to get accepted! And as a former student of the Christina School District myself I fully support neighborhood schools! I lived on Cleveland Avenue in Newark, and sat on a bus for an hour and a half both ways to attend Bayard for 4th and 5th and Pulaski for 6th….to me that is precious time I could have been home doing homework…but that is something public school children get very little of these days..homework! Another point is there are 3 high schools in Christina School District…now 4 if you include NCS…but if this were about equality then why do all the kids from Wilmington get bussed to Christiana, and a few to Glasgow? Why are they not more evenly distributed? Better yet why is there not a high school located in Wilmington? There is so much wrong with our education system on a national level as well as a state level…that a five mile radius seems like a mute point! The five mile radius was not a way to discriminate but a way to bring back the neighborhood school, to stop bussing kids an hour a way(with traffic) to get an education! I see both sides of this story…and this is just my opinion but instead of trying to get rid of a radius that keeps a school a neighborhood school shouldn’t we fight to bring back the neighborhood schools in all areas? Why not build a school in Wilmington with a five mile radius…that is just as prestigious if not better then Newark Charter?


  12. So I’m confused at this statement ” If it fails, Newark Charter School still has their 5 mile radius and still keeps kids from the Christina School District out of their prestigious public school.” We live across the street from Glassgow High (IN the Christina District) and are within the 5 mile radius. While my kid didn’t make it into to that school (and it wasn’t for lack of trying… we were in that lottery for 5 years!), there are PLENTY of NCS kids in our neighborhood hopping on the buses in the morning. They are, as are we, predominantly African Americans. While I was never fond of that 5 mile radius requirement OR the lottery system (heck… I vehemently detest both), how is that discrimination because the kids in Wilmington are NOT in that radius? Help me understand.


    1. I think the 5 mile radius is discriminatory. NCS sits near the border of MD so it isn’t even a true radius. But to intentionally say we don’t want a portion of a district we reside in? That is heavy.


      1. Just to focus on that simple point. Do you think it is discriminatory that a kid that lives in Newport cant go to North Star or Linden Hill Elementary? They live in the same school district but are forced to attend there local school. Choice is closed for those “really good” schools (or at least it was a few years ago, I’m not in the area anymore but the point stands). I just don’t see the difference. If anything NCS is less discriminatory, at least there is a lottery that gives kids a chance.


  13. Kowalko,

    I’m not sure who you are trying to intimidate by sharing quotes from a private group. But it’s a group of which I have no knowledge. Did you not read where I said I was NOT able to get my child in to NCS? My point is simply that your time and effort would be much more appropriately used trying to build CSD in to a district that families are flocking to, rather than running from.

    And, the reason representatives are elected from different geographical areas is so that the interests of those different groups of individuals can be heard. So yes, you do, or should, be representing the interests of those who live in your district, primarily.

    Interesting, as well, that I did not name call or insult you in any way, just stated the facts and that I disagree with your actions, and yet your first move is to resort to both. I highly doubt that your passionate quest against NCS is the true result of your love of these mythical children (who do not live in your district), but caused by some perceived slight to you by the Charter community. If I can convince Greg Meece to kiss your ring, will you finally start representing your own constituents?

    Also, tell me more about how you were not elected to represent our interests. I’m sure your comments will make excellent fodder for campaign posters later.


  14. Kelly
    Time for you to stop taking things out of context and fabricating statementrs that are deliberately intended by you to cast false aspersions. You did not state all the facts and certainly not correctly. When you are small-minded enough to dismiss the taxpaying families and children (mostly minority and poor) of Wilmington as “mythical” you are in fact name calling and insulting me. Your baseless and false interpretation of what I have consistently said equating it to “refusing” to represent you or anyone is baseless and vulgar. For the last time, I do not know you or where you live. I do not know who your friends are but if you and they live in Delaware I will represent you fully and happily unless you expect me to represent a person or group whose intentions and agenda will harm the interests of other Delawareans or deny others there equal rights and opportunities and access to public facilities and assets. If you don’t like the idea of fairness and justice for all as the mantra of a state public servant then shame on you. And if I represent you or anyone else whose agenda will harm other families and taxpayers without representing those (wherever they live) interests then shame on me
    Representative John Kowalko


  15. NRV
    Very appropriate that you are familiar with the word “unhinged”. I’m glad you’re willing to describe someone/anyone as “unhinged”. Any reputable psychologist would tell you that acknowledgement is a good first step in seeking to cure someone’s problems. Good luck!
    Representative John Kowalko


  16. Give up Kevin and John K. NRV won’t quit. It wasn’t so many years ago that she raging against a certain special needs charter school and singing the praise of CSD elementary school. As the wind blows so does her psychosis. Stop wasting your NRG on NRV.


  17. Ellie
    You are absolutely correct but I often find it exasperating to hear words and attitudes that connote hatred and resentment for those in less fortunate circumstances than others. It is very difficult to not respond when certain people feel they have the right to demand that I ignore my sworn obligations to everyone’s best interests. But you’re correct. I’m done chasing the ghosts of resentment and the imaginary wrongs that have been foisted upon a few misguided dilettantes.
    Representative Kowalko


  18. Here is an idea for a bill. Present a bill where every public school can choose their own radius just like Newark Charter. We all can’t go to Newark Charter so let’s all become a Newark Charter.


  19. The Citizen’s compact regarding public education allows for a good basic education in a neighboring school. We citizens are being abused by PC legislators that want our money w/o our consent to right social inequities as they see it. Students that live in Wilmington deserve to be enrolled in great Schools in Wilmington like the former Wilmington HS and PS duPont. Two hour bus rides to Yorklyn still result in solid Wilmington majorities at JB school. Wilmington needs to have a district and schools shouldn’t be built far away from student populations. Stop the lowbrow name calling and work on the logical solution of schools within neighborhoods!


    1. Whatnot;

      If it seems simple, it is oversimplified. Court-ordered desegregation forced the busing situation. The choice law directly competes with the neighborhood schools law. Unfortunately, our students are living with the repercussions of these situations, and the adults can’t figure out how to overcome inertia to make it right. I’m with you on neighborhood schools, but it cannot happen under the current Delaware educational system.


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