Private school parents are protesting a proposal to eliminate a stipend they get to help pay for transporting their kids to school, saying they pay taxes and deserve at least something from the state’s education budget. [...]
This year, families submitted 10,994 stipend requests, receiving $168.14 per stipend, according to figures from the Department of Education. That cost the state more than $1.8 million.
Parents quoted in the story say:
“I pay my taxes every year and do not get anything from the state other than receiving this check…”
“The public school system is benefiting from our tax money. So we ought to get at least a little something.”
And even the politicians:
“This is something I will fight to the end,” said Rep. Joseph Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley. “It’s like giving a little bit of a crumb to parents who are paying the same taxes. And now we’re taking even that away?”
News flash: Everybody gets something for their school taxes, whether your children are in private school or not, or even if you don’t have children at all. Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.
I swear, between the quasi-private charters and now this, pretty soon we will be hearing about a publicly funded “right to a private education.”
The last few meetings of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force have been cancelled or postponed for various reasons, but it looks like it is back on track now. The third meeting is tonight at 6:30.
Note the new location in Dover (Townsend Building, Cabinet Room, second floor). Public notice is here.
As a bonus, the Charter/District Collaboration Study Group is meeting in the same room at 4:30, so if you are going to Dover you can make it a two-fer. Public notice is here; no agenda is posted.
At the October meeting of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, questions were raised about the kinds of questions charters and choice schools were asking on their admission applications prior to their admission decision, and whether those questions were permissible. These discussions were documented here in Does your momma pick watermelons?
After the meeting, Rep. Kim Williams submitted the questions to the Delaware Attorney General’s office for clarification. This was a serious enough issue that when the AG had not responded, the November meeting of the Task Force was cancelled pending the information.
The December meeting of the Task Force was also cancelled because of a scheduling problem with the venue (Buena Vista).
But tonight the meeting will resume the discussion and share the response from the Attorney General, plus some other interesting items. Agenda is here.
I Welcome and Introductions
II Approve minutes from meeting held on 10/24/2013
III Reviewing HB90 purpose, accomplishments and current meeting goals
Brief overview of forwarded documents:
Blue Collar Task Force Recommendations
Repairing Delaware’s Fractured Public Education System by Dan Rich, UD
Deputy Attorney General’s Letter dated 12/16/2013
IV Examining application – categories and questions
V Public comment
VI Next steps
Ted Kaufnan recently wrote a piece in the News Journal to the effect that increased investment in education now “will lay the groundwork for economic growth.” While investing in education is a good in its own right, if we don’t begin to reverse income inequality we will just be pouring money into a leaky bucket, and the money will be funneled upward and end up in the portfolios of the already wealthy. The best incentive to succeed in education is the promise of a good job, and right now that promise is shaky.
Senator Ted is probably the best we have ever sent to Washington. Too good perhaps. Too bad he couldn’t stay.
But when he says “The correlation between educational achievement and economic opportunity will grow even stronger in the years ahead,’” he is correct, but probably not in the way he intends.
Increased educational success will not necessarily lead to jobs. Our workforce is more educated than ever, but even as education levels increase, employment and real wages have been declining.
Look at it from the other end of the telescope: Increased economic opportunity will lead to greater educational success. That is, if we put economic policies in place for a more broadly shared prosperity, opportunities for education will also increase in a virtuous circle.
The key is reducing income inequality. We have become a rich country filled with poor people. When you are poor you have less opportunity for educational success.
This is now desperately obvious in Delaware, where the students with the most economic advantages have always gone to private schools but are now ending up in “high performing” economically segregated public charters. And those who are left behind economically are also left behind in education.
Addressing income inequality doesn’t mean everybody has to make the same amount. It just means that the extreme trend needs to begin to be reversed. People need jobs, and working people need to keep more of the profits they generate.
Let’s clear the air about income inequality. I’m not arguing, nor are any people I take seriously, that we should try to end it. There has always been income inequality, and always will be in a capitalist society. That’s not the reason so many have lost faith in the American Dream.
They don’t mind inequality as long as they feel there is equal opportunity. When they don’t believe that, when they feel the deck is stacked against them and in favor of the very rich, we lose something that has been perhaps the most vital part of the American experience.
The best incentive to succeed in education is the promise of a good job. When that promise is restored, parents and students will demand more of their educators, and will be willing to fund their demands.
In Delaware, NCC especially, we used to enjoy a broad prosperity with only pockets of poverty (most notably the city of Wilmington). But now the poverty is county-wide.
So Senator Ted is correct about the correlation, but he has cause and effect reversed. When we have economic policies that reduce income inequality and restore our broad middle-class prosperity, then we will begin to enjoy educational success for all students, not just the segregated charters and private schools.
Sat, November 23, 9am-12pm
Studio 1, The Grand Opera House
You have a choice in your child’s education! Come learn more about charter school options for your child for the 2014-2015 school year. This school year, New Castle County is home to 16 charter schools. In the 2014-2015 school year, four of our existing charter schools will expand and our county will welcome four new charter schools. Next year, parents in our county will have more options for their child’s education than ever before. Meet and greet leaders, teachers, and staff from charter schools across New Castle County. Connect with local community organizations and businesses that provide a variety of supports for students and families.
TEACHERS WANTED: Charter school leaders are looking for hardworking, educated teachers and staff members for the 2014-2015 school year. Get a jump start on your career at the New Castle County Charter School Expo!
One question parents should as is why the Delaware Department of Justice is puzzling over whether the questions on charter applications are out of bounds or not (see: Does your momma pick watermelons?)
The November meeting, [of the Ebrollment Preferences Task Force] scheduled for this Wednesday, November 20th, has been cancelled. The Department of Justice is still working on answering the legal questions that were submitted on October 22nd, 2013.
Pick up some applications yourself and join the investigation.
:ast night the HB 90 task force began to sharpen its focus, taking a look at specific information charters and VoTechs request on their admission applications. Co-chair Kim Williams read out a list of questions she had gathered from actual applications.
When read out loud the whole list seemed to go on and on, with each question odder and more inappropriate than the last. Jaws dropped when she read: “has a parent or guardian worked on a farm, in the fields or in a factory with fruits, vegetables or animals; has the parent or guardian every worked with watermelons, potatoes, mushrooms, corn, apples, chicken, or shellfish,”. Remember, this is information parents must provide in order to be considered for admission. Here’s the whole list:
The questions that were asked on the applications: race of a student, specifically if the student was Hispanic/Latino, student’s social security number, photo id, IEP or 504 Plan, citizenship, what languages are spoken in the home, place of birth, place of parent’s employment, health problems, parents married, separated, has your child repeated a grade, where does the child live: with both parents, mother, father, grandmother; does your child receive services: inclusion, occupational therapy, hearing support, speech therapy, or counseling; does your child take medication, wear glasses or wear a hearing aid; has a parent or guardian worked on a farm, in the fields or in a factory with fruits, vegetables or animals; has the parent or guardian every worked with watermelons, potatoes, mushrooms, corn, applies, chicken, or shellfish; has your family changed homes in the last three years? Schools asking parents if they need transportation. Please check if your student has any area of interest in these sports. What ways do you feel that this school will serve your child?
Copies of the items requested on the application: birth certificate, copy of the parent or students social security card, medical records, proof of residence, most recent report card etc.
Once the discussion resumed, the charter and VoTech representatives were unfazed and were full of justifications why their school needed extra information. But then Rep. Williams asked “That’s fine, but why do you need that information BEFORE the admission decision has been made? Why can’t you collect it AFTER admission?” And the silence was deafening.
You might think that requiring a common application form would solve these kinds of issues. Kilroy has the form; go take a look.
The problem is although charters, VoTechs and magnet schools are required to use the common form, they are still allowed to ask whatever supplemental questions they want. All they have to do is staple the common form on the front of the supplemental questions, and they are compliant. Even on the online application, the supplemental information were just added “as is” with no questions asked. Nobody is checking to see if the supplemental questions are fair or even legal.
One of the dodges offered by the charter folks was “That information is not used in the admission decision,” and sometimes it says so right on the application. But I’m not impressed. As Rep. Williams noted, “Most applications state that you must return all items requested, if you do not, your application will not be processed.”
I say the surest way to make sure information isn’t misused is to not collect it in the first place.
The discussion went around for a while longer, but didn’t get much further, which is fine because the issue had at least been unmistakably laid on the table.
The problem is asking these questions will remain legal until some parent challenges them, which leaves enforcement up to parents, probably only after a denial. That is wrong. It is an opportunity for leadership from the Department of Education or our district leaders.
So as the task force moves toward its directive of producing recommendations this January, here’s an idea: An application should not contain any questions that exceed your charter (or whatever documented admission criteria they use). If it’s not in your charter, it’s not on your application. That would be a piece of real charter/VpTech reform that can be accomplished within the scope of the Enrollment Preferences task force.
6:30 pm at Buena Vista Conference Center
Red Clay will hold a workshop today on changes to feeder patterns which will be required when the new Cooke Elementary school opens on Graves Road. I’m not familiar with the Board Workshop format so I’m not sure how it will go down.
The devil will be in the details, folks – get in there and find him!
Board Workshop – Attendance Zones
October 22, 2013
McKean Culinary Cafe
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.