Dear Sirs and Madams:

We bring before you some questions about HB 165.  The Jacque’s Charter Upgrade Bill.

1) How much money is being culled away from the traditional public schools which teach 92.1% of Delaware’s public students, to be given to Charter Schools which represent 7.9% of Delaware’s public students?

a) $5 million;  b) $25 million;  c) $75 million;  d) over $100 million

2)  What was the thought process and the reasoning behind giving Charter Schools  170% more money per student for transportation and letting Charters keep what is extra; over what you give public schools to transport students, and force them to pay it back if over?  How did these numbers come up?  What is their basis?  What costs were used to determine the amounts?

3)  If Charter Schools want to be considered Public Schools,  why can we not from the beginning put their teachers under the state teachers union to help with their training and support?

4)  One thing that is missing in this bill is structure of what happens if a school fails in the middle of the year.  Yes, we understand that this bill is supposed to prevent that from happening, but, sometimes things happen.  Lehman Brothers, after 200 years was gone in half a day.   Pencader was able to close the school year.  But what will happen if another situation just like that were to occur.  The policy should be in this bill.

5)  Since vocational schools receive state funding, why can’t Charter Schools be funded by taxing the top percentage of our state income earners enough to cover the cost of Charter Schools?  That way public schools have access to all their funding.  Funding a school based on the number of its students is unrealistic.

6)  How is taxing citizen’s property for to be used for the funding of the public schools system.  and then diverting that money away from what they assessed themselves, over to a private for-profit enterprise, even constitutional?   If I’m paying “x” number of dollars for my child to go to my neighborhood school, how is it a “fair” taxation when my dollars  instead go to support XYZ charter school, whose very existence is damaging my own child’s school by stealing “my” funding away from her, and putting it onto the profit line of someone else’s business?

7)  In this bill you promise to rate Charter Schools by the Criteria of a Performance Framework. All that is, are whether a Charter meets goals, none of which are specified except for those relating to the DCAS test.  For all we know one of the goals might be to designate one day as “pajama day”. There are some serious issues within that Framework. How do you propose to cover them and still evaluate Charter Schools without damaging the children in those schools who have no other place to go?

8)  Diversity, consistent with the community it serves, is a condition of a charter school’s renewal or modification.  In this bill there is no directive for any charter to achieve diversity and reach out to the community at large.  There is no directive requiring it to support free lunch for all grades.  This is promoting “white flight”.   Please answer why this avenue of “white flight” should be codified into law, providing fewer and fewer resources to those who are most in need?

9)  In Pennsylvania and Indiana, state law prevents charter schools from discriminating.  Can you please point out in this bill where that same clause that prevents discriminating through either legal edict or use of a lottery, to ensure that discriminating is non-occurring?

10) When Charters first started, they promised they would be able to do more with less.  Yet today, they are now demanding:

1. Capital financing.
2. Preferential transportation budgets that they can use as a slush fund if they don’t spend them.
3. Exemption from accountability for a full decade.
4. Different rules for the appeal of their pupil decisions to DOE than the school districts have.
5. Continued exemption from any transparency of operation because, you see, they are state-funded corporations and therefore not accountable (hello Fannie Mae. Sallie Mae, Federal Reserve).
6. Continued ability to simply boot out (ok, counsel out) students back to their old districts.
7. Bail-outs from the state when their finances go belly up.

So instead of an innovative, creative drawing board, we are developing another fatted calf, when we already have a plethora of fatted calves needing feeding.  How does this piece of legislation, assist in getting back to having Charter Schools be independently funded, not drawing state funds away from public schools, and again become the laboratory for good ideas, instead of being a drain siphoning off the best from our existing system?


That’s ten… What questions can you think of that should be asked tomorrow at the House Educational Hearing which will be stocked with pro-charter folk?