Gov Carney Vetoes Discriminatory Charter School Bill

Via Delawareonline:

Gov. John Carney has vetoed a bill that would have eliminated charter schools’ ability to give enrollment preference to students who live within 5 miles of their campuses primarily because he felt it was unfair to Wilmington students in the Christina School District.

The bill would have allowed charter schools to prioritize students who live in parts of a school district “geographically contiguous” to them.

This means Newark Charter School, which boasts a waiting list of 3,000, could still give preference to enrollees who live in the Newark part of the Christina School District. Applicants living in a smaller section of Wilmington, also in the district, would not have the same advantage.

Talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen. Basically, Christina School District City Taxpayers would be denied access to a public school funded by their tax dollars. Try that stunt with anything else and see what happens. What the hell were legislators thinking?

John Carney: “Despite those efforts, this legislation unfairly excludes some of our most vulnerable students. It does not simply remove the five-mile radius preference. The legislation creates a new standard that uniquely limits options for at-risk students in the Christina School District portion of the city of Wilmington – many of the kids who need our help the most – and that is something I cannot support.”

It does create a new standard, and you can bet money that if the positions were reversed Newark residents would already be protesting about their tax dollars funding something that excluded them. As they should!

I simply have to include this:

Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the goal of charter schools is to foster “feeder-pattern type attendance,” creating the feel of a neighborhood school.

He argued removing the geographic preference would pave the way for a “default no-zone,” defeating that purpose.

Yeah… um… NO. Fostering a “feeder-pattern type attendance,” creating the feel of a neighborhood school was never the intended goal of charter schools. Charter schools’, clearly stated and often touted, initial goal was educational laboratories – schools that could try different educational techniques and then share their results with public schools. That was the original intent. Later it morphed into “charter schools get better results with less money.” Guess since neither of these reasons came true we’ve moved onto Sokola’s newly made-up goal.

And, btw, there really aren’t neighborhood schools anymore. Choice, charters and magnets did away with that. Don’t believe me? Count the different school buses driving through your “neighborhood”. Honestly, we had more neighborhood schools during busing than we have now. Then, at least, the entire neighborhood/community went to the same schools. And it’s funny hearing Sokola – a huge Choice proponent – touting feeder patterns. When did they become the goal?

The optics of this bill couldn’t be worse. Gov. Carney was correct in vetoing it. Not only because it excluded city children (which was a huge deal), but because it would be in court faster than you could say Charter Schools are Public Schools! I’d hope that our legislators would have known this, but apparently not.

34 comments on “Gov Carney Vetoes Discriminatory Charter School Bill

  1. Great piece Pandora.

    “Later it morphed into “charter schools get better results with less money.” I feel like there should be a little plus sign (+) next to the end of that sentence that if you clicked on it would expand it to reveal the following:

    “Except many charters do not achieve improved performance and those that do have other contributing factors like selective admissions processes and even then, their performance mirrors that of traditional public schools of similar size and socio-economic composition.”

    So in a nutshell, there’s no distinct educational advantage to charter schools. Same results with less stewardship of the tax revenue that supports their operations and the ability to solicit private donations from corporations without any oversight or regulation.

    • Yep! Yep! Yep!

    • Well, except for that fact that you can get rid of underperforming teachers without union bullshit, and the fact that kids who refuse to behave and ruin the classroom environment for those that want to learn can be removed, and the fact that charters get no capital money from the state. Other than that, no distinct advantage.

      • Brian Stephan

        xyz, your comments are not unique. I’ve heard them before from many people. I will provide my responses that I always do when I hear this. You don’t list advantages. You list ways to skirt an education system purposed to educate all children no matter what.

        Why would unions want to keep bad teachers in their ranks? What advantages does that generate for teacher unions?

        Where do kids who “refuse to behave” get their education once a charter fires them for what ever reason they concoct? Traditional public schools. Education is a right for all children. There is no option to not educate.

        You’re right. Charters don’t get major capital from the state, they do get minor capital. Districts don’t get million dollar donations from the Longwood Foundation, or DuPont.

        • You call it “skirting an education system”. I call it getting value out of my taxpayer dollar. Why should I continue to pay for a subpar product when there is a better way? There is a reason charter/choice/etc. exist. A significant portion of the people of Delaware decided that the educational needs of their children were not being met. Until traditional districts accept this and make some significant changes, charter/choice will continue to be a part of the educational landscape in Delaware.

          • I disagree. Parents like them because it gives them the feeling of control in a system that removed local control of schools 40 years ago. In the case of most of the African-American-centric charters, it’s just an illusion — their kids, AS A WHOLE, get no better an education than at traditional schools. But nobody with kids in school is as worried about the school as they are about their kids.

          • “A significant portion of the people of Delaware decided that the educational needs of their children were not being met.”

            Bullshit. I have heard literally hundreds of parents talk about why they switched their children’s schools, and none ever said that. They might want to get a kid into Charter School of Wilmington, but not for the education as much as the better shot at a top college a degree from CSW will fetch.

            In general, white parents move kids out of traditional schools because they want “a safer environment,” which means fewer or no black/poor kids.

            “Until traditional districts accept this and make some significant changes”

            Interesting. What do you think those “significant changes” should be?

            • Give schools the ability to kick out those that consistently disrupt the educational environment. More real votech and other tracks that allow for job training for those that are not going to college. Zero tolerance for any violence towards teachers or other students. District consolidation, remove some percentage of non-teaching positions.

              • Where are you sending these children once you kick them out? Are you building new schools?

                Not to mention that your claim of constant disruption is overstated and really vague. Are you kicking out the class clown? The autistic child? The kid that got into a fight? All of them? Some of them?

                I’ve had two children go through public schools (one graduated college a year ago, the other is heading into her college junior year) and the disruption they faced was pretty much in line with what my husband and I dealt with in school decades ago. I’d suggest you visit a public a school.

                But if you’re serious about this problem you should be for equitable funding. That’s a way to make sure high needs schools receive the resources they need for their students to excel.

              • They already have the ability to kick out “those who consistently disrupt the educational environment.”

                Is this how you talk in daily life? And were you under the illusion that your out-of-touch talking points were going to convince anyone here that they should listen to you? And how are these changes supposed to happen — everyone will fall in line because you have waved your magic wand?

                The people discussing education here aren’t doing it as whining taxpayers. They’re intimately involved. Until you are the same, your best bet is probably to shut up and learn.

            • Think you are splitting hairs a bit, if a parent is concerned with “a safer environment” (perfectly legitimate), wouldn’t you say their children’s educational needs are not being met?

              • No. Are you a parent? The issues are behavioral, not educational.

                • Exactly! And the idea that parents are making sound educational choices doesn’t hold up when we’ve seen parents choose schools like Pencader, Delaware MET, Prestige, etc..

                  • Oh, it’s a sound choice by their thinking. They don’t want their kids coming home talking like the “catch me outside” girl.

                    • What a pair of sanctimonious jerks. I am a indeed a parent of two who attended Delaware public schools including both charter and traditional schools. And I am a relative of multiple educators in the Delaware school system, and spent 12 years in Delaware public schools, including a year in Wilmington courtesy of the Hon. Murray Schwartz and the 9-3 program. Elbert J. Palmer if you must know.
                      So I know a bit about the subject.

                      You asked me what changes I would make. Obviously I convinced at least you to listen to me as you posted 5 responses to my comment.

                      I attended Newark HS 30 years ago and my son graduated from the same school a few years later. The discipline problems now vs when I was there are in a different league. They had a strong principal when my son was there and I thought he did well in an incredibly tough role.

                      How you can separate behavioral issues from educational issues is beyond me. But I’m just a whiny taxpayer, not a smug liberal, so who knows?

                      And BTW I do support equitable funding.

                    • Graduated a few years ago, not later. Exactly 30 years after I graduated.

        • I actually agree with your position, Brian, but I can’t ignore lines like this:

          “Why would unions want to keep bad teachers in their ranks? What advantages does that generate for teacher unions?”

          Because that’s what unions do. They protect everyone in the union, whether that person is competent or not. They are not like medieval trade guilds, which policed themselves for competence out of self-preservation (in my experience, trade unions today do the same, because no electrician wants to get electrocuted by an incompetent union brother). The “advantage” for the union is that same as the “advantage” of having a lot of managers about your place of employment — it creates work for people who would otherwise have to get a harder job. Union officials are, essentially, middle managers.

          “Where do kids who “refuse to behave” get their education once a charter fires them for what ever reason they concoct? Traditional public schools. Education is a right for all children. There is no option to not educate.”

          Is this a rhetorical question? You know quite well where they get their education, and it has been found to pass constitutional muster as entertainment whether you agree with it or not.

          Otherwise, quite a loaded passage. I would maintain that many of the “concocted” reasons these children are expelled for are not at all concocted. You can only argue from anecdote here, because I doubt there’s any research into how many of the disruptive students were truly disruptive vs. how many were tossed out for — you tell me, what reason is not disruptiveness? You made the charge, substantiate it.

          “Districts don’t get million dollar donations from the Longwood Foundation, or DuPont.”

          Neither do most charters, which, again, is something you surely know.

          • Freudian slip there. It passes constitutional muster as education. That’s what happens when you type too fast, and I always forget you don’t have an edit function.

  2. mikem2784

    Horray for Carney doing something right! Yay!

  3. @ Brian, “So in a nutshell, there’s no distinct educational advantage to charter schools. ” So, then what is your thoughts on the educational value of the Charter School of Wilmington?

    • The Charter School of Wilmington is basically a public AP/IB high school. Students can achieve the same results in a public high school (altho usually with less resources available). All CSW does is take “smart” kids via an entrance exam. Their test results have little to do with what goes on in the classroom and more to do with who they let in the classroom.

      In fact, their “results” are completely in line with AP/IB/Cambridge students in other public high schools. The only difference is that CSW doesn’t have to educate all children, just the ones they select. And if they make a “bad” selection? No worries, they can just “counsel out” that student.

      Here’s CSW’s breakdown:

      English Language Learner – 0.2%
      Low Income – 4.5%
      Special Education – 0.8%

      Here’s AI High’s:

      English Language Learner – 8.0%
      Low Income – 41.2%
      Special Education – 16.3%

      Here’s Dickinson’s:

      English Language Learner – 10.2%
      Low Income – 38.7%
      Special Education – 17.6%

      Here’s McKean’s:

      English Language Learner – 11.1%
      Low Income – 46.6%
      Special Education – 24.2%

      That’s the difference. And by siphoning off those kids our public schools have to direct their resources to a higher needs population thereby losing programs that benefit all children.

      • Let me add to pandora’s reply.

        What all those numbers she listed above translate to is simple: If you graduate from CSW, your chances of acceptance to a top college are increased. That comes at the expense of the kids at those other schools, whose chances at those top colleges are decreased because their high schools are ranked lower than they would be otherwise. In assessing applicants, colleges weigh not only grades but the schools in which those grades were achieved.

        • Yep! If you carved out the AP/IB/Cambridge programs at public schools and classified them as their own schools (making sure there was no possibility that public school students in that building could access them) then their ranking would be the same (and in some cases higher) as CSW.

  4. Carney has a great deal to clean up, after Markell left Delaware in such a mess!

  5. @ Pandor. “All CSW does is take “smart” kids via an entrance exam.” So basically, Anyone who passes the test can get in. And that is how it is in college, not everyone gets into Yale.
    CSW provides a student with an opportunity to exceed their boundaries. It’s the competitiveness in learning; between the students, from the teachers and atmosphere that make them successful. Why not give a student a place and choice where they can excel, apparently, some of the public schools don’t provide that. So, you might say then let them go to a private school. Well, maybe they can’t afford that. CSW, gives them that opportunity, that place to excel.

    • We are talking about public schools. And AP/IB/Cambridge offer exactly the same thing as CSW with exactly the same results. The only difference is that they are housed within our public schools, which means they aren’t taking away resources.

      There’s only one pot of money. And, make no mistake, this is about funding.

      How about this? You are the principal of a public school and I’m the principal of a charter school. There are 100 students that will be split between our schools. However, before they are split I get to administer an entrance exam, written essay, not offer free and reduced lunch and charge fees (Oops! No poor kids at my school!) And after that I get to pick every student who will attend my school. You get everyone else – students with disabilities, poverty, ELL, etc.. Then I get the same funding per student you get. And then… I get to point out how bad your school/test scores are. And you could rightly point out that you have to educate every child while I cherry-picked my student body.

      And comparing K-12 public schools to colleges is silly. College isn’t mandated.

      • AGovernor

        Thank you Pandora, you said everything I would have said to that comment.

    • Small problem with that: it’s NOT “anyone who passes the test can get in.” The admissions process takes test results and interview into account, as well as additional factors like legacy. There is no transparency or accountability to the admissions/interview process and how applicants are scored. Students who are “undesirable” can be removed from the admissions pool with no recourse.

      • Thanks May! Sorry I left those important details out.

        • AGovernor

          Wait, CSW takes in to account legacy? Well then the earlier comment is correct in comparing CSW admission to college admission. Private schools take legacy in to account, but public schools?

          • That has been a feature of even traditional school feeder patterns for years.

  6. Okay, I’ll give this a shot.

    “Give schools the ability to kick out those that consistently disrupt the educational environment.”

    They have that ability. It’s called expulsion. They had it 30 years ago too.

    “More real votech and other tracks that allow for job training for those that are not going to college.”

    This one’s a pretty good idea, actually. Not so easy to pull off, though, when a good portion of the district’s resources are being pulled out in order to plug a budget hole because our governor is too chickenshit to add a couple more tax brackets. And when what remains is being skimmed to line some charter school CEO’s pockets.

    “Zero tolerance for any violence towards teachers or other students.”

    That’s been the rule since Columbine at least, if you haven’t heard. It hasn’t really helped much. Zero tolerance policies are the refuge of skittish, unthinking administrators, and they make no sense if you watch the actual real-life applications.

    Violence towards teachers is extraordinarily uncommon anyway, at least afaik. I certainly haven’t heard of it.

    “District consolidation, remove some percentage of non-teaching positions.”

    This has been floated repeatedly, and aside from it being a political impossibility, no actual analysis has ever concluded that it would save any money.

    Overall, you seem to be primarily concerned with disciplinary issues. You want to deal with that one, figure out how to get the parents to give a shit. Or, figure out why these kids’ home lives are so bad that this is the kind of thing that comes out at school, and then figure out how to deal with it. The problem is probably one of those two.

    • Cleaning up the vo-tech system is indeed a wonderful idea, and like xyz’s other suggestions, one that has been floated for years.

      Also, his line “How you can separate behavioral issues from educational issues is beyond me” is easily turned around into “how you can conflate behavioral issues with educational issues is beyond me.”

  7. This was supposed to be a reply to xyz. There appear to have been some technical difficulties.

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