The Delaware Department of Education came out with the 2016 September 30th Enrollment Report. This document shows the head count for each school district and charter school in Delaware public schools. As I predicted, special education students rose again this year. To qualify for special education, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). With the exception of vocational schools, both the traditional school districts and charter schools went up in enrollment statewide. The growth for traditional school districts was anemic at best, with only a .32% increase from last year. Overall state enrollment went up by .9%. Once again, charter schools saw the greatest growth with a rise of 7.8% over last year. No new charter schools opened this year, however many submitted modifications last year to increase enrollments and grades in one case. Other charter schools began new grades this year based on their approved charters. Some districts saw very steady growth but others saw continuing drops. Continue reading
Matthew Albright with the Delaware News Journal wrote an article today about Delaware charters, and centered on Odyssey Charter School. Delaware charter schools face obstacles to growth is the name of the article. I think it’s funny, because many disadvantaged students face obstacles to getting into these “dream” charters like Odyssey, Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy. Their student populations always have less African-Americans, students with disabilities and low-income students than those around them. And their cheerleaders always say the same thing: “Their lotteries determine who gets in.” Yeah, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
School leaders and parents at successful Delaware charter schools say the state can and should do more to help them grow. While understanding that the Department of Education has to crack down on charters showing evidence of financial mismanagement or a failure to provide high quality education, parents and educators wonder: If a school has top test scores, deep community connections and parents clamoring for expansion, can’t the state help?
Did Publius from Kilroy’s Delaware write this article? If a charter school has “top test scores”, which doesn’t mean squat to me because I don’t value any standardized test score as a true measurement of any school, than they have trimmed the fat and picked the better students and essentially recruited (stolen) them from their local districts.
Albright talks about Odyssey’s latest money problems, something I wrote about six days ago. But of course, Albright, being a reporter for a somewhat major metropolitan newspaper would get more information. I’m just a blogger! Should Odyssey get more money from the state? Hell no! Charters wanted to have it their way, but when they can’t get things their way, they call the State. Enough. They get more financial perks from non-profits and loop-holes in the budget to make up for what they don’t get from the state.
Charter skeptics maintain that the state shouldn’t spend a cent more on charters while traditional school districts cry out for more resources to serve at-risk students. They argue charters don’t serve enough of the kids who need the state’s help the most, and every dollar that goes to a charter is a dollar less for districts charged with that mission.
Damn straight! Some schools are literally falling apart, and Odyssey and other charters want more? After they have siphoned money and students away from their local districts? Sorry, you missed the boat. Why don’t they call the Longwood Foundation? They are always giving away money to charters. Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko got the Albright call and didn’t mince words:
“Until you can prove to me, and I mean show me proof on a piece of paper, that these schools are taking in the same kind of students as our districts and doing a better job, then maybe we have a different discussion,” Kowalko said. “Until then, it is unconscionable for us to be sending additional taxpayer dollars to them.”
Why would we give more money to a school that is facing this on their latest financial framework with the DOE:
The problems reported include deficits, high debt-to-asset ratios, low cash reserves and negative cash flow over the past three years.
So we give them a get out of jail free card while Christina bleeds? I don’t see the state rushing to help them. And the article even has Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network joining the fray! I’m not sure when she finally figured out there were other schools in Delaware aside from charters, but I’m not sure I buy what she wrote:
“If any public school, not just a charter, is doing great things for kids, we should be enabling them to do more of it,” Massett said. “Odyssey is a great example of that.”
The timing on this is impeccable. The DOE and Donna Johnson will be presenting to the State Board on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities. This is the strategy to “determine how charters operate in Delaware” along with all the other great programs our schools offer. Another US DOE non-regulatory non-Congressionally approved “suggestion”.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers approved a moratorium on new charters until June of 2018, or until the state finishes a comprehensive strategic plan that would address how charters fit into the state’s overall public education system.
If anyone really thinks there will be a moratorium on charters until 2018, they are smoking something funny. Once the State Board celebrates Donna and the DOE’s hard work and does their high-five party, the charter applications will flow.