Delaware Vote Tracker

House Passes Repeal of 5-Mile Radius Preference for Charter Schools

In one of the closer votes this session, the House has passed House Bill 238, which ‘repeals the ability of a charter school to give preference in student admissions to students residing within a 5-mile radius of the school.’  The vote was 22-16-1. It was mostly a party line vote, as you can see below. Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf all of the Republicans, save Jeff Spiegelman, in voting no. Spiegelman joined Democrat Stephanie Bolden in being absent for the vote. Rae Moore had a conflict of interest and did not vote.

House Bill 238 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Kowalko, Baumbach, Morrison, K.Williams, Wilson-AntonHouse Passed 22-16-1-2. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Freel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Wilson-Anton Schwartzkopf Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick. Absent: Bolden, Spiegelman. Conflict: S.Moore
Current Status: Senate Executive 5/5/22

The party line vote is interesting considering how the General Assembly voted on this bill five years ago. The 2017 bill passed both chambers with bipartisan majorities, and unusual coalitions, as you can see below. But Governor John Carney vetoed it.

Yes VotesNo Votes
House Passed 27-13-1. B. Short, Baumbach, Bentz, Brady, Carson, Collins, D. Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, Hudson, Jaques, K. Williams, KentonMel.SmithMiro, OsienskiOuttenParadeePostles, Q.Johnson, Ramone, Smyk, Spiegelman, Viola, Wilson, Yearick Bennett, BoldenBriggs King, Heffernan, J. Johnson, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Potter, Schwartzkopf.  [Absent: Keeley]
Senate Passed 12-4-2-3. Bonini, Bushweller, CloutierHansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lopez, McBride, Poore, Richardson, Sokola, Walsh DelcolloHenry, Marshall, McDowell   [Absent: EnnisPettyjohnTownsend] [Not Voting: Lavelle, Simpson]

The reason this bill is necessary is the stunning lack of diversity in Charter schools. “This bill has one single and simple purpose – to repeal a flaw in the charter school law that allows charter schools to exclude taxpaying families from access to those schools,” said State Rep. John Kowalko, the chief sponsor of the bill.

Kowalko argued the radius promotes “economic and race-based exclusion” and causes de-facto segregation. That seems to be be backed up by the statistics. For example, Newark High School has a 35.75% African American population, and a 37.4% White population. Newark Charter School has a 58.95% White population and a 12.16% African American population. For Latinos, the difference is even more stark: Newark High School has a 19.34% Latino population, and Newark Charter is 6.35%.

There is also an income disparity. Newark High School’s low income student population is 30.61%. Newark Charter’s is 6.1%.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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