(Sometimes the best part is writing the title, 🙂 )

By now we know how Ferguson, Missouri leaned on the indigent black population to exhort money to pay its bills so it could continue to live high off the hog…  That is what this new School District Alignment will do for Wilmington’s inner city schools.

The ultimate aim is to allow large mega-state charters, friends of Markell and investors, run Wilmington’s school system.

Here is how it works.  These  6 schools are deemed failing schools due to their scores.  A new leader is installed and given a hefty salary.  These leaders are already known and loyal to the cause…  These leaders all fail, collect their money, and retire to the good life, probably in some school system down in Florida…  They leave the six schools in shambles.

These schools are switched to Charters.  The charters get to select their students either directly or by stacking up those eligible for entrance into the lottery.  The good students flock to the charters and those scores are shown to improve.  The losers matriculate over to the public school system, which now has even a harder time to raise its overall score, because all the smart people are gone.  These schools drop for that reason and are cited as failures and turned over to charters.  These bottom level charters perform no better, but by then, no one cares.  Money is already flowing from public coffers into private pockets. The reason those schools failed is due to poverty, they then say.

Here is why this will not work.  In a comparison, we showed exactly how much better these schools were run compared to charters.  Public schools teach better across all income levels than do charters.  Simply put, they have more depth.  To use a basketball metaphor, little Butler can make a strong challenge if lucky enough to connect all its pieces, but it can never beat a University of Kentucky which has a larger selection of candidates who are almost as good as the top squad of little Butler…

So there is no way, in a fair competition that a charter school can ever outperform a public school.  Therefore they have to cheat.  They have to keep the good, and get rid of low scoring students; the advantage they have that public schools do not.

When this program was unveiled, Governor Markell said:  “LOOK AT BOSTON…”   So I did.

I figured the teachers union would have already researched it and I was right.  This was pulled from their report:  “Charter School Success or Selective Out-Migration of Low Achievers? Effects of Enrollment Management on Student Achievement.”

Despite claims that charter school lotteries give all potential students an equal chance to attend, the enrollment data do not reflect the diversity of students in the Boston Public Schools. This was especially true in the award winning charters up there, just as it is here with Wilmington Charter and Newark Charter…

  • Virtually no limited English proficient students.
  • Lower percentages of special education students than the Boston Public Schools. Of the special education students enrolled in BCRS, there were:

– Almost exclusively special education students with mild learning disabilities whose needs are addressed through full inclusion in regular education classrooms.

– Virtually no students with moderate learning disabilities whose needs are addressed through partial inclusion in regular education classrooms and instruction in substantially separate classrooms.

– Virtually no special education students with severe learning disabilities whose learning needs are met in substantially separate classrooms.

All of which pull down scores considerably….  How considerably?

Special ed students often test in the 100 range where proficiency is established at the 700 point range…  If you have 20% of your students in the 100 point range, here is how it stacks up:

100 + 100 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 = 5800/10 or a 580 average…

Now with only 10% and then 0% scores in the 100 range…..

  • 100 + 700+ 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 = 6400/10 or a 640 average…
  • 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 = 7000/10 or a 700 average.

The number of low performers makes a difference. Which is why it is silly to compare schools that are not identical and say, one is better than the other when the EXACT OPPOSITE IS JUST AS LIKELY TO BE TRUE…

Both Kuumba and Wilmington’s Thomas Edison Charter School were touted as examples that charter schools could perform in the inner city better than public schools…

Kuumba has a 5.7% Special Education rate…. or 1 out of 20….  Thomas Edison has  6.8%…. In comparison, the schools being closed and switched over to charters have the following: 14.7%; 19.0%; 9.5%; 15.4%; 14.0%; 11.5%…

Using the same method above and comparing the averages of the two extremes… Kuumba (5%) and Bayard (20%),

(100 + 700)/2 + 700+ 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 = 670 average

100 + 100 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 = 580 average…

The first is Kuumba; the second is Bayard… The only difference in this illustration is the percentage of special ed students who we assumed would score in the hundreds which is infinitely better than had they never gone to school at all…

We would need access to private personal data to determine what is equally important, which would be the extent of each student’s disabilities. If someone has a mild disability, they may still be working off an IEP but with accommodations can score as well as regular students.  If all of Kuumba’s disabled were of such high caliber, that would not pull down the scores… Since public schools have to accept everyone, if a child had brain cancer as was missing parts of his hardware, his score would pull down the lower levels.  A zero would have great impact on the total scoring…

Since the cut score for proficiency is set in the 600’s, Kuumba would list at 95% proficiency and Bayard would be listed as below proficiency and put on a remedial plan, a plan which is doomed to continue to fail, unless the new $160,000/year leader kicks out those special students who dropped his score…

The school failure rate is all math.  The recent push for Red Clay to mainstream all their special-ed students, would also directly drop Red Clay’s overall average scores and that of course, opens it up to be used to ram in Charters (which in turn will siphon the better students and let the bottom drop out entirely).

Another piece of evidence being withheld is how many of these students now below standard, but would have been C students, and not D or F students under a system less Draconian than today’s. (Such as back when we went to school.)  The proficiency level is cut to around a B+ level. All those high school students in the 80’s and 90’s who came out with a B- or C averages, went to the University of Delaware and have professional jobs now, were not a failure then, but would be considered one now… because the cut level of what is deemed acceptable is now raised….

Now there is another troubling issue from Boston’s study:

How many of Charter School students actually graduate?   In Boston a charter school boasted that 99% of its students went on into college…  They only counted who was remaining.  They did not count out those who they kicked out or who dropped out…  Over the course of time, the majority of students who have “won” the lottery and gained admission to these charter schools leave and for the most part are not replaced by students on the waiting list.

In the first six graduating classes of the school boasting a 99% rate, no more than 136 students out of 367 entering students completed the curriculum.  At this rate, only 37 percent of students entering have been accepted in four-year colleges.. This score is no different from that of urban schools.. And is certainly worse than the public school system at large….

Imagine if you had only one senior left and he went to college, you could still state that 100% of your seniors went to college compared to 56% of public schools…  This is equivalent to the hype being given in regards to charter schools…

This is why this has to be fought… Not for those lucky enough to win the lottery; but for all of those in a pool 4 times greater who get left behind because those who know the governor, can afford lobbyists, now get to make money running charter schools and bill the government for all expenses…

That is why this is equivalent to the Fergusonization of Wilmington’s little black children.  The landlords, the wealthy, the connected, will all take the money currently directly going into education, and the little black children will be bused from closing school to closing school with worsening conditions at each successive one.

It is a rather nice get-rich scheme, and inner city students are the collateral damage…. The only obstacle is if public opinion interferes.

But… there IS something every citizen can do.  Opt out of the test.  Don’t let your child be tested, and then there is no contrived test score showing how well or how poor ones school did… Plus, no legislator will stand up and say to his voters, “you are wrong, you don’t know what you are doing”…. Instead, those legislators will point the finger at Markell and Murphy and say, “you lied to us, YOU don’t know what you are doing”….

If that can happen, this Fergusonization, can be stopped….

Opt out and save Wilmington’s schools and save their children.

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