Those concerned about education in Delaware all read Kilroy’s of Delaware, one of the most informed clearing houses in Delaware’s entire educational spectrum.  If you are in the education biz and don’t read it, there is a word for you: ill-informed.

Therefore most human beings involved with education in the state of Delaware, will recognized this oft repeated phrase which keeps re-occurring. …

“Make no mistake, I’m in favor of charter schools” and recognize that he goes on to expose all their wrong doings.  Truth is, if it weren’t for charter schools, he’s have little to discuss…  For charter schools do not work.  They certainly do not work in Delaware.  Remember, Charter schools are not a brand new phenomena with which we are undergoing experimentation..  We’ve been  experimenting with them over 20 years.  Charter Schools create problems; not fix them.

Quickly some will point out successes… If you didn’t have charter schools they will say, you would not have this great success there on Highway 100 in Wilmington, or over here, across from Suburban Plaza in Newark.

That is quickly balanced by the fact that 3 charter schools failed the past year.  Pencader, Moyer, and Reach.  If the Charter movement were so good, how could something so good fail and hurt so many children?

The issue is complicated.   Beware of those making blanket statements.  Instead, one should make a decision based upon the preponderance of the evidence, and not on one or two  isolated incidents.  That goes for whether one is FOR or AGAINST all Charter Schools.

A. The first lesson in Charter Schools is that Ying and Yang apply.  If a Charter School takes out the worst students, the public schools benefit as the result.  Oppositely, if Charter Schools take out the best students, then it is the public schools who  suffer as the result.   Specifically, if a charter school opens and 10 children benefit from its opening and 10 children suffer worse off than they would have been had it never happened, … the net effect is zero.  +10 – 10 = 0.

B.  Proponents of Charter Schools never look at the problems their schools leave behind.   When a Charter School comes into a district, it takes money that would have gone to the public school to educate that student who is now in Charter.  What happens to those students who didn’t get into a charter school?  There is less money to educate those left.  They suffer.   Whether it is through a lack of programs, lack of supplies, lack of soap in the bathrooms, lack of teachers, lack of after-school programs,  they all suffer.  A bus needs to run for 1 student or 10. If the Charter school is getting paid for busing in 9 students,  the public bus still has to run even though it is getting money for only one student.  That run’s expense comes out of other programs….   So when a Charter moves in, it sucks the economic life out of any school left in that area….

C.  When Charters move into a district, the entire district’s scores drop.  Charters do not teach as well as public schools.  They lack the depth.  Therefore those in Charter School perform less well than if they’d been in public schools during the same time.  Likewise those left in cash strapped public schools, receive less of an education than they might, had charters been excluded.  All the funds for all the students passing through the public arena,  gives the best shot for success.  In a study done in Philadelphia,  the test scores for the entire district averaged far lower then that entire district had previously tested before charters were legal…

D.  When Public schools fail, they get fixed.  When Charter Schools fail, and many of them do, they get closed.  Closing a school as opposed to fixing a school, is traumatic for children.  Also if a public school is deemed poor, help begins immediately to fix it.  Charter schools proceed a year, or two,  or 5, between evaluations.    Meaning students would be getting sub-standard education for two  or more years and no one knows.  Students can never get those two years back.

E.  Charter Schools are vehicles of segregation.  Public schools are vehicles of integration. Segregation works both ways.  Theo Gregory wants Wilmington to segregate its Charters to exclude wealthy suburbanites.  Newark Charter was invented to exclusively include only wealthy suburbanites.  One suburban Charter, Wilmington Charter,  is 93.8% non-African American.  The new charters going into Rodney Square, will be at least 93.8% African American.  Whites in one school; blacks in other schools.  Heaven forbid whites and blacks co-mingle…. thank heaven for the creation of Charter Schools to allow segregation to continue.

F. Public Schools educate better than Charter Schools.  One side effect of standardized testing is that it makes possible to see how well students are learning.   Although some affluent Charter schools are considered the best in the state,  it has always been the private schools who were truly  the best in the state.  That is because they choose who gets in.    But when one compares students from an affluent charter school to affluent students in public schools, … those in Charter Schools are falling behind.  Likewise, when one compares Charter schools with lots of poverty, to public schools with lots of poverty, the students in Charter schools are falling behind.   In all cases,  Charter Schools do more damage to a child’s future prospects, than do public schools.

G. Charter Schools steal your tax dollars….  This includes you, if you pay property taxes at all. Part of that assessment goes to your school district to cover their costs…  Whenever a student from your district chooses to go to a Charter School, your money goes with him, not to the schools in your area.  Therefore the money you think you are putting into making your school better, is instead going into a privateer’s pocket… somewhere else, perhaps in another state, or even another nation….  You have no control;  state law mandates money follows the students.  Charter Schools mean you are paying taxes under false pretenses.  Every time a charter school opens,…. more of your money is leaving your school district, and settling into the school’s investor’s bank account…  You are simply paying money so they get a return on their investment.  That is all.  All that money, you pay, goes to them….  Call it theft. Call it graft. Call it grand larceny.  Best bet, is if any Charter School opens near you?  Call that money… gone. And five new charters are opening up this year…

H.  As would any salesman, Charter Schools do not tell the truth on their application.  The Charter Organization behind Delaware’s Moyer Charter School, is being sued for misrepresentation upon the selling of its stock.   Recently it was exposed for its abysmal and deplorable learning conditions existing in all its schools.

I.  Charter Schools seriously impact a district’s finances.   When a student goes to a charter school, the district initially loses the money per student.  That means a district should cut costs back by $10,000 for example.  But the loss of that student, causes the fixed cost per student portion to rise.  Using round figures in an example, if fixed costs per district are 50%. and there are 100,000 students,  and cost per student it $10,000 each….  the $1 billion district budget would be equally divided  into $500 million in fixed costs (these can never change) and  $500 million  in discretionary cost.   Now if 10% or 10,000 students opt into charter schools,  The district loses $100 million dollars…   It’s entire budget drops to $900 million…   The fixed cost which used to be 50% or $500 million still stays at $500 million, but now consumes  5/9ths or 55.5% of the total budget….   Whereas per student, the discretionary amount that used to average $5,000 per each student,  is now dropped to  $4444 dollars per EVERY STUDENT. Which means a district has to cut back $556 dollars for every public school student because of a new Charter School.  Therefore with the loss of each single student to a charter school, even thought the school originally got $10,000 for that student,  his loss now costs the district $10,556… The district incurs a  5.56% increase in cost per student… when Charters in this scenario, are allowed to move in.  The increased costs could actually be much higher in real life;  I just picked arbitrary numbers to make the math easier for all to understand.   I would like to try the formula out on Christina’s budget someday to see how much each student in public school suffers each time another student goes off to a charter.

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As one can now see, Charters are poison to a school system.  With the cost of charters being so high, they really need exemplary results to justify their cost to society.  Exemplary results are the one thing we can count on Charter Schools NOT to deliver.  yet they’ve had 20 years to try….

Whereas I fully agree with Kilroy’s wanting to give parents a choice, charters are not the appropriate vehicle to achieve that.   Charters have too much collateral damage when they target an area.  They hurt others in their attempts to help….  They destroy good public schools systems.  They napalm bad public school systems.

Kilroy needs to read what his own myriads of actual writings tell him, … and that is that …. sigh,… Charter Schools are poison…  They contaminate the well for all who may come afterwards to drink from it….

He will probably respond with facts from Red Clay’s Charters.  It should be noted that Red Clay’s charters are part of Red Clay’s district.   In a roundabout sense, the money never leaves the district.  Therefore the  fixed portion of costs stays the same across the district, even if one person opts to go charter, from a district school…

That possibility has merit.  if so, the Bank of America Charter complex, must,  and I repeat, must remain under the district’s control…  whether Brandywine or Red Clay….  The Woodlawn trust should deed the property over to a School District at no cost,  as it was deeded to them by Bank of America, and the district of either Brandywine or Red Clay should be the responsible party….

That way the money shifting would only be sideways, within a district,  choice would continue, and innovation could be allowed to prosper…

If districts do not control Charter Schools within their boundaries, as happened in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago,  and DC,  into the toilet will go all of northern New Castle County…..

I wish it weren’t so, but all evidence points to stopping all  Charter School  progress in it’s tracks, unless the district it is in, has the ultimate oversight over it’s operation, and its choices are not determined by some made-up fracked-up commission of doo dahs with no practical school running experience…..

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