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Will Delaware still honor the Lowery Doctrine?

June 4, 2013

Will it even be legal under HB 165?

Established when Secretary Lowery unexpectedly issued the conditional approval for the Newark Charter expansion, the Lowery Doctrine states (my formulation based on her approval letter):

Diversity, consistent with the community it serves, is a condition of a charter school’s renewal or modification.

This statement of basic decency is Lowery’s lasting legacy and gift to the state, if we don’t murder it before it is even tested. Here’s what Lowery said in her conditional approval:

…the Department approves the application for modification but conditions that approval on: (1) the development, approval and implementation of an outreach plan to significantly increase, consistent with the public school population it serves, the diversity of NCS going forward; and (2) NCS providing a free and reduced lunch program for all grades starting in the fall of 2012.

Secretary Lowery also sharply noted:

I am hopeful these conditions, coupled with NCS’s full and earnest implementation of them, will result in NCS being more accessible to high need students. However, the Department will review this issue carefully when NCS seeks its next charter renewal and will be inclined to impose additional conditions in the absence of significant progress on this issue. [emphasis mine]

When I read that letter, I was shocked in a good way. I suddenly realized how pleased and how proud I was to have a strong African-American woman at the head of our DOE.

No doubt the charter movement was shocked in a different way, and began the wired backdoor lobbying effort that led to the Governor’s Workgroup on Charter Schools, and then to HB 165.

Will the Lowery Doctrine even be legal under HB 165?

Left unsaid is whether the current DOE administration even supports the Lowery conditions on NCS, let alone other charters. The next test will come when NCS seeks renewal, and DOE has to decide if it will run the demographic stats again to see if there is improvement, and take action if there is not. We’ll be watching.

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  1. June 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    The May Progressive DE DEM meeting guests were three well-researched speakers on what happened with Newark Charter School and TPS. There was a warning that the HB 165 provision only for lunch is not enough. Supposedly, there needs to be a breakfast served too. Something to think about.

    Lowery was backed into a corner and it took her a while to do the right thing – striking the balance needed on the most glaring problem with NCS before approving their expansion application. I appreciate it but understand that it was pulled out only as a result of the very painful public hearing process, intense public scrutiny and much angst from both sides of the issue. Without NCS issue she’d not have touched one thing in the way things work.

  2. Citizen
    June 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Mike, I have a detailed NCS demographic analysis available which may interest you and/or your readers. How can I send such a document to you?

  3. June 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks, Citizen, send to mike01@seventhtype.com.

  4. openaccess
    June 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Here’s an example of what Delaware could be doing with charter schools

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Diversity-for-charter-schools-3578220.php

    and here’s a link to the details

    http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2012Meetings/July2012/712brca11.pdf

    Such targets, when met or exceeded by a charter school, would go a long way towards eliminating skimming and resegregation by charter schools. What NY is doing is a well-specified version of the “Lowery Doctrine.”

  1. June 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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