I’ve been racking my brain on this for a long time now. If it isn’t financial abuse, it’s bad enrollment preferences. If it isn’t the DOE praising certain charter schools, it is a lack of due process.
I think what it comes down to is arrogance. We see that in traditional school districts as well, but what makes it so pronounced with the charters? Charters are smaller. When they make noise, everyone hears it or points it out. Nothing gets some Delawareans pissed off more than seeing some charters blatantly flaunting their admissions process. For others, it is the amount of money being wasted by school leaders and not making it to the classroom. But when a charter has issues, hearing or seeing the leaders defend problems that are so inherently wrong makes them look rather foolish.
Just about every charter school in Delaware, since I started this blog, had one of the above issues I mentioned since I started this blog back in June of 2014. Three charters have shut down, with another going down at the end of this year. When things go down at a charter, we often see the bulk of the parents defending the school as if they can do no wrong. Is it that they are blind to the facts or is the option of sending their child to a traditional school district so frightening for parents they are willing to overlook these infractions?
There are the true horror stories like Delaware Met and possibly Delaware Design-Lab High School. Brand new charters that don’t seem to have a clue how to run a school. And as we’ve seen time and time again, the DOE, with rare exceptions, doesn’t do anything until after that Wednesday in January when the choice window closes. We find out what they knew all this time, and the DOE gets away with it every single time.
What are we teaching our children? That it’s okay to send the more fortunate and the more knowledgeable to the “better” schools? That it doesn’t matter if you go to a school that is 98% African-American? That if you are “counseled out” of a charter it’s okay to be out of the system for over a month? Behind all of this is the shadow of standardized test scores. For all Delaware schools, including charters, this is the measurement over which the DOE’s judgment is severe. Many think the DOE is too charter friendly, but when there are issues, the DOE comes down on them like white on rice. Which is good, but had the DOE acted sooner in many of these situations things wouldn’t get as bad.
There are no easy answers or solutions to these issues. What we need is a culture change when it comes to charters. In the meantime, the war, yes, the war, continues. It bubbles over into every aspect of education in our state in one form or another.