Senator Sokola: “Maybe Christina Should Give One Of Their Buildings To Newark Charter School”

The Delaware Senate Education Committee tackled the 5 mile radius bill today with some explosive comments from Senator David Sokola, mostly in response to a public comment.  Warning: some of the comments conveyed today will get people very angry.

There are times when I have to jump through the “3rd wall” when I write blog posts because I’m actually a part of the story.  This is what sets bloggers apart from traditional media as we are not bound to the same constraints as traditional journalists.  I say this because it was my public comment that set off a forty minute conversation about Christina School District vs. Newark Charter School.

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 was heard in the committee today.  The bill would eliminate the charter school enrollment preference of a 5 mile radius entirely.  But the controversial part of the bill is that any part of a district that is not attached to the whole district would disallow those students from getting a preference for a charter school.  Which only applied to the Christina School District.  Which prevents Christina’s Wilmington Christina students from getting any weighted preference to Newark Charter School even though the school is IN the Christina School District.  I gave the following public comment which set off, what I believed, a controversial but necessary conversation about the Christina School District and Newark Charter School.

*Note: in my public comment, I mentioned the Substitute Bill changed the bill in adding the portion of Christina.  I was incorrect with this.  In the original draft of the bill, before it was given a number, it did not have that wording.  Once it was shared with Senator Sokola, he insisted on that wording.

I am here today to speak in opposition to HS1 for Senate Bill #85. Had it stayed without the substitute, I would  be the biggest cheerleader in the world for the bill.  But, and while I would hope it was not the intent, the optics on the bill now throws Delaware back to a time we should be leaping away from.  By not including the Wilmington Christina Students, we  ARE creating de facto segregation.  While the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission delivered an option to take care of this part of the district, it was not approved and written into Delaware state code.  Therefore, based on a judge’s decree, Delaware must adhere to the ruling delivered to them decades ago for the districts where they stand now- four districts within Wilmington.  To do so otherwise would be against that ruling. 

I understand there is legislation floating around right now that would create a district consolidation task force, but nothing will happen during this half of the legislative session. Perhaps it could eventually change this portion of the Christina School District.  But since the Wilmington Christina students are a part of the district, we must offer them equal opportunity with this legislation.  We must not skirt around what is right to benefit one charter school in one school district.  While many will argue over how Newark Charter School’s demographics came to be, they are woefully insufficient compared to ALL areas of the Christina School District, whether it is within the 5 mile radius, the Greater Newark area, and the entire district.

As well, we are denying the Wilmington Christina taxpayers the chance for their children and grandchildren to have the same opportunity as the rest of the district.

Should this bill pass, it would open the State of Delaware to a very expensive and time-consuming law suit by civil rights groups who would argue this General Assembly created a situation which results in de facto segregation.

For far too long, I have seen legislation that seems to benefit the largest charter school in the state which just so happens to be in the same Senate district Senator Sokola resides in. While some could say this is coincidence, I see this is a continuing conflict of interest, especially since Senator Sokola once served on the Board of Directors of this school and helped to create the school.  With all due respect to Senator Sokola, I would ask that he step down as Chair of the Senate Education Committee if he is not able to support legislation that would benefit ALL Delaware students as opposed to a small portion that just so happens to have votes within his own Senate District.  Thank you.

Sokola immediately responded to my public comment.  He stated the WEAC committee specifically said they thought Christina School District should not be a part of Wilmington.  Flat-out.  He acknowledged he did serve on their board for two years as did three other Delaware legislators.  Sokola argued that the original bill, prior to his involvement, would not have given any school district a preference for charter schools because it wipes away the 5 mile radius completely.  Since Christina didn’t authorize NCS, any district student is free to apply to the school.  He also said that since two other Wilmington charters have a 5 mile radius, First State Montessori Academy and EastSide Charter School, the Greater Newark area students would not be given preference as well to those schools since they are not a part of the non-congruous part of the district.

Sokola is correct with that, however, First State Montessori has a top preference showing specific interest in the school which is the first of their enrollment preferences.  I am not sure how many students in the Greater Newark area have shown interest in attending EastSide Charter School (which is actually located in the Brandywine School District).

He said the lottery system Newark Charter School uses is the fairest in the state.  He said he has seen it firsthand and they actually kick out any applicants who rent out their homes but do not reside in the five mile radius.

The Senator went into, what appeared to be, a very frustrated speech about how the Christina School District has buildings they don’t need.  He actually said the words “Christina should give one of their buildings to Newark Charter School.”  He said the whole purpose of the charter school law was for more parental involvement in schools.  And here I thought the purpose was for districts to replicate the charters, but I digress.  In an odd comparison, Sokola used Northstar Elementary School as an example of a school in a district getting it right.  He cited how they have seven nationally certified teachers and they serve students better.  I have been to Northstar, very recently, and this is in a much more affluent area.  I saw more expensive cars there than I’ve seen at a school in a long time.  By constantly failing to factor in socio-economic conditions for a school’s success, Sokola will ALWAYS lose this argument with me.

Transportation issues came up with sending Wilmington kids to Newark Charter School.  Since I had already given my public comment, I was unable to add that Newark Charter School has benefitted immensely from the Charter School Transportation Slush Fund to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the past three years.  Senator Bryan Townsend said he found it to be “completely immoral” for Wilmington students to be bussed to Greater Newark area schools but not have a bus go to Newark Charter School.  He acknowledged how current law is written about parents needing to bring their child to the closest point within the feeder pattern of the charter school or the district, but also said we needed to change that for all students.

Both Townsend and Senator Anthony Delcollo brought up the legality and the optics of this bill.  Both said it doesn’t look good to take a chunk of a school district and exclude them from an equal opportunity to get into one charter school.  Delcollo brought up how Christina is the ONLY school district this applies to.  Delcollo said this bill puts a huge spotlight on this issue.  He said this could create a “disparate impact” which is defined as this:

Disparate impact in United States labor law refers to practices in employment, housing, and other areas that adversely affect one group of people of a protected characteristic more than another, even though rules applied by employers or landlords are formally neutral.

Townsend and Senator Jack Walsh said they have constituents in the five mile radius and outside of it.  Townsend said he is torn on this bill because part of his constituency would have less opportunity to get in (those within the five mile radius) while others would have a greater chance (those in his Senate district outside of the five mile radius).  He went a step further and expressed a desire for the Wilmington legislators “to lead the issue” to have Christina Wilmington students in the same preference for Newark Charter School.  Townsend made it a point, on several occasions, to say none of these issues were the fault of Newark Charter School.

Delcollo brought up the letter from State Reps. Charles Potter, Stephanie Bolden, and John Kowalko, along with the President of the Delaware NAACP, asking for Attorney General Matt Denn to produce a legal opinion on the bill.  In the discussion, he brought up the ACLU as well as the NAACP and how it looks if the bill passes.  Ultimately, Denn was not able to offer a legal opinion because of precedent on this issue, but did state his office agreed with the Enrollment Preference Task Force’s recommendation to do away with any school having a 5 mile radius.

Sokola felt letting the Christina Wilmington students into NCS would be “putting a burden on a successful school.”  He stated he was “tired of it” and we need to find a way to replicate successful schools.  This led to Einstein’s definition of insanity as “you can’t get better results doing the same thing“.  Both Townsend and Sokola expressed frustration with how Christina students are educated.  Sokola said “What is mind-boggling to me is Red Clay, Colonial and Brandywine are doing good things and they are drawing kids back…we have one district that is not doing it and one charter school that is.”

Townsend said he has not been “in a position to get along” with the Christina School District and their Board of Education in recent years.  Sokola as well brought up the district and board as being difficult to deal with.  Townsend said Christina did not respond to principal needs and frustrations over the years.  He said people cried out for this and the district and board didn’t respond unless results came from an attack by the Delaware Department of Education.

Sokola argued that if Delaware is ever going to be sued in a big way it will be for a lack of equitable funding and indicated he would welcome that lawsuit.  “We should have funding follow the kids, not the units.”

While there was no yelling or interrupting members of the public at this meeting as there was two years ago during the House Bill 50/Opt Out saga, there was definitely a feeling of frustration on Sokola’s part.  I feel, and have always felt, that Sokola’s priority list in Legislative Hall when it comes to education is #1: Newark Charter School, #2: other charter schools, and down the list, #3: the rest of the schools.  Sokola has always felt that “successful schools” are led by great teachers.  While there is some truth in that argument, there are also the issues of what comes into the schools: students with disabilities, home neglect and abuse, poverty, English Language learners, violence, and so much more.  I accept that Newark Charter School does a better job with school climate to varying degrees than Christina School District.  However, because of their student population not having even close to the same amount of those issues, are they truly a more successful school?  Sokola actually answered that question by using Northstar Elementary in Red Clay as an example.  Successful teachers, under Sokola’s definition, seem to gravitate toward schools that do not have large subgroups of students.  If those seven nationally certified board teachers at Northstar went to Warner Elementary School in Wilmington for a year, would they be as successful?  If Newark Charter School had an equal amount of student populations as the rest of Christina, would they be as successful as Sokola boasts they are?

By the end of the discussion, there was a potential of a change in the wording of the bill, but nothing was set in stone for that.  Sokola indicated the bill would circulate for signatures from members of the Senate Education Committee.  The bill was released from the committee, with four voting to release the bill “on its merits”.  This places the bill on the Senate Ready List for a full vote by the Senate.  In the Delaware Senate, only the Committee Chair can put it on the agenda for a full vote.  Which would be Senator David Sokola for HS1 for House Bill #85.

Sokola did thank everyone for public comment even though they may not always agree.  I appreciate that, I really do.  But my sole intention with my public comment was to give a stern warning to this committee, to actually protect Delaware from a lawsuit that will no doubt come if this bill passes.  It was my way of giving a heads up that no matter what the intentions are, this looks really ugly.  I have no doubt we will find out in the coming weeks if the Delaware Senate agrees with me or not.

I do wish Sokola would step down as Chair.  By failing to look at certain realities of education, he fails to understand the dynamics of the Christina School District.  I’m not saying Christina is perfect.  I’m not saying other districts are better.  Each district has its own set of issues and problems.  By constantly comparing Christina to Newark Charter School the way he was today, THAT is what sets up the whole us vs. them mentality, not the other way around.  The Senator Sokola I saw today was very different than the one projected at an education forum at Newark High School two and a half weeks ago.  His comment today about Christina giving away one of their buildings to Christina is one for the record books.  Had Sokola given that comment at that forum, in front of hundreds of Christina parents, students, and teachers, he would have been booed out of the auditorium.  The frightening thing is I think Sokola REALLY believes what he is saying.  But he only sees part of the issues, not the whole picture.  But more than that, there was not one mention of any other school district aside from those surrounding Wilmington and Newark.

Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett supported the bill and Sokola said she and other charter schools helped in the formulation of the House Substitute.  A representative from the Delaware State Education Association argued against the bill for similar reasons as I gave in my public comment.

In terms of the district consolidation bill I mentioned earlier, there should be legislation coming out very soon creating yet another task force to look at getting this done.  I strongly suspect it will have State Reps. Earl Jaques and Mike Ramone.

 

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19 thoughts on “Senator Sokola: “Maybe Christina Should Give One Of Their Buildings To Newark Charter School”

  1. This is the age old question. Do the needs of the many out way the needs of the one? As a parent, the one is always first. But, as a public servant; hired, elected, or appointed, the needs of the many 9 times out of 10 out way the needs of the one. Public school means equal opportunity. Newark Charter is not providing equal opportunity, but still uses public funds.

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    1. Mary Jane,
      Thank you for being a teacher and thank you for recognizing that as a society, especially with respect to our gov’t institutions, the needs of the many MUST outweigh the needs of the few or one. If our society or state had unlimited resources it would be easy to simply allocate resources to whoever and whenever there was a “need”. We do not have unlimited resources. Therefore our resources should be prioritized for the largest benefit to the majority. (Understanding, that in so doing, we should not violate individuals rights.) What happens when our legislators, in response to special interest advocates, pass laws and entitlements for the special interests, they are doing the opposite. They are prioritizing and allocating those limited resources to the needs of a minority. Mr. Kowalko will of course claim it is the ‘selfish’ majority who are to blame for not being generous enough but the logic of resources is very simple. Our schools have been spending a larger and larger portion of money on specific interests and less and less on the majority of students. The specific interests include Unions (prevailing wage), the economically disadvantaged (counseling, crisis management, tutoring, remedial teachers, supplies, computers, transportation, before and aftercare, mentoring, and special paraprofessionals to name just a few), programs for illegal immigrant non-english speaking students and government programs such as Race to the Top. The result is the largest portion of legal students and parents ARE NOT getting the resources needed to make education what it could be. This is a tragedy that the districts know but are unable or unwilling to remedy.

      NCS IS providing equal opportunity to anyone that enters the door via the fairest method they can offer (lottery) within the context of a community school. Remember, NCS is not a Christina District school. Christina gave up all say so about NCS (and other charters) when they refused to adopt policies and schools that the residents wanted. To apply your logic of ‘equity’ on an alternative school, that is not affiliated with the district, based on the “district’s” borders is flawed. The money being transferred for students in NCS is money that follows the child. NCS students just happen to be predominantly from Christina District. The complaint that Wilmington kids are being deprived of access or resources, because of NCS is inaccurate. The state allocation of money follows the child. PERIOD.

      The 5 mile radius is a community school guideline and in compliance with neighborhood schools act LAW. To argue that it is inequitable is to argue for No districts, No feeder patterns, No community. It does not follow a logic other than to want all students to have access and transportation to any school, anywhere.

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      1. I have heard FAR too much about NCS to agree with your points Knave. If only someone would go on the record with the enrollment practices of this school, how there was a HUGE push to get more Oriental kids into the school. How some of the African-American students come from wealth and how that was used to show “Yes, we take African-Americans here.” How families were counseled out even before they actually applied to the school based on NCS not wanting certain students with disabilities or low-income status there. How students have been counseled out over minor infractions over the years. Are you actually suggesting all those programs for the economically disadvantaged should go away? There is absolutely nothing equitable about NCS, and as long as they have legislative cheerleaders like Sokola and Miro, they never will. One school should NOT cause this much conversation. As more and more see this gross inequity, the more the school will be called to task for it.

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        1. Did you actually refer to Asian American students as Oriental? Do you have any evidence of any member of the NCS Board or staff actively recruiting among Asian American communities or is this one of your standard claims? You have a habit of making a claim, stating someone told you this, and therefore determine it must be fact.
          The 5 mile radius is just as limiting as CSD feeder patterns in Newark schools. Are the Newark K-5, 6-8 schools segregating because they don’t accept outside the feeder pattern unless they have open seats? CSD policy is that students in the feeder have preference over anyone else in the district.
          Would you object to CSD opening a high school in Wilmington?
          Sokola is not wrong in suggesting CSD allow a charter (NCS or other) to use a building. Their enrollments can’t be close to what they were a decade ago. Closing a building would save money and allow more money to be spent on students. Renting or selling that building would provide even more funds to teach CSD students.

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          1. Ah, welcome back Pete. Been a while. If I had absolute proof, I would have used it a long time ago. I’m not the News Journal buddy. Get used to it. Yes, I hear things all the time. I hear the same things, many times. But you have to remember, Delaware is a small state. Retribution is a trade in this state, and we all know it. People have reason to fear. Doesn’t stop them from talking though.
            I used the term “Oriental” because that was the term I heard from many about how Meece wanted more of them back in the day.
            I think any district operating in Wilmington should have a high school in Wilmington. Period. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen anytime soon though.
            You can’t just give a school building to a charter school. They are separate LEAs. I love how you want to compare NCS as needing a feeder pattern like Christina does in Newark, but then you just want them to give away a school. They aren’t just buildings, they are schools. And let’s be crystal clear, Sokola used the word “give”, like Christina owes NCS or something. It is that mentality that I have grown to get very sick of when it comes to this whole thing.

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          2. I never said CSD should give NCS a school. I said based on the district’s current enrollment, they should rent or sell a building, to a charter school. Nor did I say NCS should be the recipient. They are buildings housing schools. CSD had quite a few schools that were closed for years in the late ’80s and early ’90s when enrollments were lower. It made financial sense to close them back then and it would make sense now. Consolidating some schools and moving faculty members would save the school millions. Renting those closed buildings could bring in hundreds of thousands per year. Those funds could keep staff and programs for the CSD kids. In a time of budget crunches, these decisions must be considered to help CSD become more efficient.
            I love how you try to throw the Oriental term back on Meece when you used it. Do you have any record of him using it? You’re not willing to take responsibility for your use of the term. I guess racist terminology is OK for liberals to use – look at Bill Maher. I also love how you fail to address the question about whether feeder patterns in Newark are de facto segregation.
            I am sorry to see that you were unable to meet your New Year’s goal of scaling back your posts and being less biased. They were admirable goals.

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      1. Many people have brought this up during the whole 5 mile radius thing. To be clear, I do not agree with those schools enrollment preferences either, but my thoughts on Newark Charter School in recent articles have been about what I view as a “special relationship” between the school and Senator Sokola and HS1 for HB85.

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    1. Jack,
      It is NOT that NCS is different as a specific interest school compared to the ones you mentioned, it IS that Christina district administration and many of its supporters have been very opposed to alternative schools and very opposed to charters. The argument about the 5 mile radius is a straw man argument simply because they are opposed to NCS (Kevin included). It is there position that if NCS had the exact same demographic profile and feeder patterns as Christina Schools, NCS would be exactly like the Christina schools in behavior and academics. This would be their reasoning to then say, why does NCS exist? It is this very reason that residents want alternative schools- they do NOT want the same thing as what is currently found in Christina district schools.

      The more rational approach would have been if Christina had adopted magnate or charter schools to satisfy the large demand for alternative or specific interest education. Christina did not, and they are upset with NCS’s feeder pattern (or anything related to NCS) as the largest example of “what could have been”, had Christina been more receptive to the demands of residents.

      Kevin’s opposition to charters and consequently Mr. Sokola, is based on his experiences with charters elsewhere, but not as a Christina resident. He has not had to cope with the recalcitrant Christina district the way many residents have. His association with Mr. Young and Mr. Kowalko have heavily influenced and inhibited his ability to have an objective view on the district matters. Mr. Sokola and Mr. Townsend are more aware of the hardships the district has imposed. They, unlike Mr. Kowalko, recognize the need for dramatic change in the district.

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      1. Knave, I respectfully disagree with your assumptions about me. I am NOT opposed to charter schools. In fact, I am currently looking at bringing my own son back into public school and a charter school may just be the best option for HIS needs at this time. I am a firm believer that ALL local school districts should be the authorizer for ALL charter schools as that is the best practice in the majority of the states in this country. I am not opposed to NCS. I would just like to see if their perceived success (mostly based on standardized test scores) would be as good IF their demographics were more in tune with surrounding schools. I am not saying Christina doesn’t have issues. I would be a fool to suggest otherwise. But I do believe politicans like Sokola have taken advantage of that and further weakened the district. I want ALL schools to be successful, but the key is in the measurement. My main beef with NCS, over and above the demographics, is the superiority complex they have which rubs off on Sokola. I believe there is a major conflict of interest there. Because of that, they have mostly operated without a huge degree of transparency. They are the ONLY charter in the state that doesn’t file a 990 IRS non-profit tax form because of a ridiculous loophole in IRS guidance dating back to 1995. Even the IRS has come out with guidance since then stating charter schools should NOT really be included in that loophole. My association with John Young and John Kowalko is the same as my association with many involved with Delaware education. I don’t always agree with the two Johns on every single matter. But in those associations, which I have with MANY in Delaware, are some common threads that get to the heart of this blog: transparency and a huge loathing of corporate education reform practices.

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        1. I hate charters so much I have moved the last 5 years to make CSD an authorizer. Mr. Townsend and Mr. Sokola know CSD imposed hardships??…that’s a classic pot/kettle conversation for sure.

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          1. Why would any charter want CSD as its authorizer after CSD’s decades-long reputation as a charter-terrorizer? There isn’t a more anti-charter district in the state than CSD.

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          2. you must be making a funny! You and your crab bucket. That stupid metaphor originated b/c NCS wanted a high school and CSD was against it. Four years later, it’s still getting tossed around. CSD can announce it wants to be an authorize until the pigs fly (and the swine flu doesn’t count) but no potential charter operation will step forward to beg CSD to authorize them. Never.

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          3. The hardships are very simple Mr. Young. Christina district, due to its borders, financial management (or lack thereof), opposition to alternative schools, and politically correct motivations has pushed a large portion of residents out of its fold. Causing residents to have to pay to attend safer schools, find transportation to alternative schools, move out of the district for better district transparency and pay higher and higher taxes for failed district purchases. (Astropower bld’g) Some political representatives are not as willing to carry the district’s water. While they may be unable to fix the state level School system morass due to Blue Delaware obsession, they can at least acknowledge that taxpayers are not being served well by their district.

            Indeed, Pot meet kettle, why has it taken the district so long to embrace alternative schools? You’ve chosen this option in for your children, why has the district resisted the efforts of concerned parents for so long? Why has the district withheld student funds from alternative schools? If Christina sincerely cared about all its residents, these issues would not have gone on this long.

            Please disclose who are the real culprits in our district’s hurdles. No doubt the ex governor, the legislative representatives’ overspending, and the implementation of nonproductive federal programs all contributed but who on the past and present board have been the most responsible for the repeating poor handling? The recent withholding of funds is clearly at the feet of the previous superintendent and the current board but the withholding has been going on for over a decade. Name names of those who have undermined the management and reputation of the district to inform the public rather than blame parents seeking good education in alternative schools.

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        2. Kevin,
          Residents, parents, and students want results. To make the case that: ineffective school districts, governed by board members, elected by a very small number of a district’s constituency, who have not displayed good track record of financial, academic or behavioral oversight, should be the only authorizers of charter schools, is a case in support of the fox overseeing the hen-house. Red Clay is one of the few districts that seems to be trying to address the public’s demand for alternative schools but many here and elsewhere have posted very critical opinions on what they’ve done and what schools have been chartered.

          You comment that you want transparency and are opposed to corporate influences on education. There is no greater need for more transparency than in our Traditional public schools with their handling of social promotion, academic stagnation, and behavioral whitewashing. What happened to Amy Joyner happens to a lesser extent in many of our schools. Children are socially promoted year after year, adding the burden to teachers. Academic levels have been lowered to improve graduation rates. These are not Charter pushes against transparency, these are traditional schools’ actions and they are not being transparent about it.

          Respectfully, what you are interpreting as elitism is in reality, the very pragmatic approach of defending what is educationally working for them. Charters can provide an environment more beneficial for some students because of the environment they create. You are considering this now and Mr. Young has utilized these opportunities as well. This may seem strange to say but I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish our traditional system was doing this on it’s own. They are not, and instead of incorporating some things they could do, they and their supporters put up a front of defiance: (i.e.: The charters didn’t file a 990 form, the charters don’t have the same demographics as a non contiguous hybrid urban-suburban district, the charters don’t give transportation preferences, the charters don’t give socio-economic preferences to the neediest, the charters counsel out students unwilling to contribute to their school’s environment.) The list is long. It is not that charter’s are being more; unfair, non-transparent or preferential with their priorities, than traditional schools, it is that they, as optional schools, can and should stipulate compliance to the charter as a requirement. Students who do not want to comply with the schools approach are free to attend a traditional school or find an environment that they can accept, elsewhere. It is their choice.

          Recent district semi-support of charters by Mr. Young comes very late in the game after nearly 2 decades of district opposition. Parents and Charter organizers are not that stupid. Christina district will need to perform some herculean image reconstruction or leadership infusion before alienated residents will entrust their children to a district that withholds state funding from their children. Talk about denial of access. Withholding funds from a charter school is a denial of access by preventing the charter school from receiving the legally obligated funds intended to educate the child. Who’s being elitist in that scenario? The charter school educating the child or the district who thinks they know better how to manage the funds.

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          1. You bring up some good points, but the one that really gets me is this one: “Students who do not want to comply with the schools approach are free to attend a traditional school or find an environment that they can accept, elsewhere. It is their choice.” How many chances are given before this happens? I think counseling out should be illegal. It is an abhorrent practice. Thank you for admitting it does happen.
            I have always wanted more transparency from charters and districts. I’ve never been shy about that. So you are saying Christina doesn’t educate any child? Come on Knave. We both know that isn’t the case. Stop. Please. It is embarrassing.
            The whole idea of charter school preferences, lest you forget, was to serve the children who are low-income or with high needs. And yes, I would include talented and gifted in that category. Even the US DOE has issued guidance on that. Let’s stop pretending that the ONLY good education experience for children is if they attend a charter school. There are great districts in Delaware just as there are good charters. Christina has some really awesome students who do awesome things. When Greg Meece releases NCS 990 tax forms, you can win the argument over financial transparency.

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          2. Kevin,
            It is you that uses the term counseling out, I do not. I admit Charters have guidelines, some are academic, some are behavioral. I will also admit that I wish our traditional public schools were empowered to enforce all their educational and behavioral guidelines. Unfortunately they are not, due to political hand wringing.

            You can’t use drugs on your job or you will be fired. You can’t engage in certain behavior or you will be fired. If the charter school’s rules are that a student cannot bully another student, and the student partakes in bullying behavior, then the student has made a choice to violate the rules. THEIR choice lead to a situation where it must be addressed by the school. THEY KNEW GOING INTO THE SCHOOL THAT THERE ARE RULES. And yes, they get more than one chance to correct their behavior. Academically, if the expectation is the student must put forth sufficient effort to pass, then they KNOW that failing to put forth the necessary effort is a requirement. They are also notified repeatedly when they are in danger.

            I refer you to the purposes and definitions of charters:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_school
            http://www.publiccharters.org/get-the-facts/public-charter-schools/
            http://www.txcharterschools.org/what-is-a-charter-school/what-is-the-purpose-of-charters/
            These descriptions do not list low income as a primary purpose but they do list that the alternative schools be granted more leeway in methods to achieve academic achievement, establish new forms of accountability, and establish alternative educational cultures.

            Your interpretation, that their whole purpose was for low income students is not accurate. Some charter schools address these needs but that is not necessarily charters primary purpose. Improving achievement is. Environments, academic approaches, curriculum are all part of their tool box to satisfy the effort to improve academic achievement. Respectfully, your interpretation is your definition, not everyone’s and not what many in Delaware believe.

            I do not claim that the only good education nor the only good students are in charters. Merely, I claim that in Christina district and some other districts, many students are not provided satisfactory or reasonable achieving experiences. There are good kids and good teachers in Christina. Take a child out of a traditional Christina school and put them in a specific interest charter school (or vice versa), they will immediately be able to tell you the difference. Ask a child in Thurgood Marshal elementary what a day is like and then ask a child in NCS. Look around the schools, observe the behaviors and observe the interactions. It is not rocket science Kevin. The expectations, the environments, and the outcomes are different. It is therefore my whole point that Charters are not the problem but rather they are a result of traditional school deficiencies. I wish traditional schools would address these deficiencies more thoroughly or offer more in house options to meet the needs (academic or behavioral). It is embarrassing that we spend so much on our educational system for a 30% to 40% pass rate in some schools. Regardless of test, that has been the general results in traditional schools and that is embarrassing. Why can’t schools improve? My view is; because they will not embrace or are not allowed to embrace the need to hold kids accountable. The culture of too many schools is appeasement and watering things down to the lowest common denominator. Good kids lose education when things are geared to the disruptive and disengaged kids.

            I don’t know what you are looking for in the 990 form (I don’t even know what it is) but does it contain some ridiculous dollar amount NCS has received that equates to a minimum of the 2~3 million per year for the last 10 years, which is what it has been suspected Christina withheld? I’d say the 990 form is a red herring for your dislike of Meece or NCS. I tell you point blank, NCS people simply want good education and kids in a good educational environment. That’s not elitism or arrogance. If they act defensive, after all the slanderous and racist things others have said about the school, I’d say their reaction is completely understandable.

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