When you think of those who don’t support charter schools in Delaware, one of the first names that pops up is State Representative John Kowalko, from the 25th Rep. District. Known for his arguments against charter schools, specifically Delaware’s biggest- Newark Charter School, it can be easy to make the assumption Kowalko hates charter schools. However, that is not the case.
Earlier this weekend, Kowalko sent out an email to his constituents with his thoughts and beefs on Delaware charter schools.
I am sending this short essay to you in order to clarify some of the misconceptions regarding my thoughts on Charter Schools and to illuminate some of my concerns.
All matriculating Christina District eighth graders that are schooled and reside in Wilmington are bused to one of three Newark area High Schools. Newark High, Glasgow High and Christians High. These are the only high schools Christina has available to those students. These high schools are all within the 5 mile radius carve out for Newark Charter High. None of the same matriculating Wilmington/Christina students is permitted to participate in the lottery selection process for the publicly funded Newark Charter High School. The school has the right to accept only lottery applications from residents within the 5 mile radius of Newark Charter when the lottery is full (which it always is). Despite repeated bills I’ve authored and sponsored to eliminate the 5 mile radius exclusion option that literally closes access to the “fully publicly” funded Newark Charter High School for Wilmington students this policy remains in force. I’ve never called for or asked for dissolution of Newark Charter. I’ve never sought to deny equal public funding for Newark Charter operational expenses. I’ve never fought to cut Newark Charter’s state transportation stipend (approx. $885 per student vs. $550 per traditional school student). I’ve acknowledged the student success of Newark Charter and worked with and nominated one of its brilliant young students Lillian P. for the DNREC “Young Environmentalist” award, for which she was chosen.
However I do not and never will support “publicly” funded schools that have exclusive admissions policies and standards, schools that do not come close to mirroring the ethnic, cultural, minority and socioeconomic diversity and ratios of the surrounding communities. I do not support these publicly funded entities from having access to taxpayer funded “Performance funds” and “Capital Improvement” funds that are “ONLY” accessible to Charter Schools. I do not support budget language (every year) that contravenes existing Delaware code that allows Charter Schools, and only Charter Schools to keep excess/unused money allocated for student transportation and not return it to the General Fund (as all other traditional public schools must). I do not and never will support a system that uses taxpayer money to fund publicly funded schools (with little to no oversight) yet refuses and denies admission to certain of those very same taxpayers children.