Archive | March 2012

Building The Perfect Beast

I’ve watched this debate continue to unfold, and as I do I try to think about what would stop the naysayers, the people who are fighting the NCS expansion. Admittedly, these observations are far from scientific, as there really are just a handful of regular bloggers/commenters.

Some of them say they are in favor of charter schools, but there seems to be so many strings attached, that there would be no way to ever have a charter school:

They shouldn’t get any money from their local district, because that money belongs to the district.
They shouldn’t get any money from the state, because the state can’t afford it.
They shouldn’t get any money from businesses, because the business will call the shots.
They shouldn’t get any money from the parents, because then the parents without money won’t send their kids there.

So they can’t have money from any sources, public or private? And of course, when they get money (I guess somebody will print it in their basement), they have to have everything every other school has.

The situation is definitely ponderous.


Don’t Destroy Christina….at least we know

So, if you’ve been following Kilroy, NCSHS is a go, and Esther Jackson was being truthful, and they will expand the 5 mile radius to all of CSD, and possibly even add a cafeteria to the lower school sooner rather than later. I trust Kilroy on this, he does have connections, and another blogger has confirmed. Next week I plan on looking at the percentage of children inside and outside various radii at Delaware’s existing charter schools, as I believe (but certainly can’t prove yet), that location is the most important factor for most Delaware elementary school parents. Hope to have stats to back that up this week. I have to say I’ve gained a lot of respect for Kilroy in the past couple of weeks. He’s intellectually honest, realistic and practical. Still don’t agree with everything he says though….

Also yesterday, Kilroy posted great information about the laws in delaware which, in a nutshell, seems to indicate that all public schools can expel, and that districts should have plans for educational alternatives. Don’t take my word for it, please go to Kilroy’s Delaware to confirm. He suggests that charters should have the same plans documented in their charter-I agree 100%.

One last piece for today. DDC has “played the race card” and low income issue for weeks now. And yesterday, knowing that NCS is stopping some or possibly all of the rules that she suggests keep minorities and low income people out (although I do not agree that those rules were designed for that purpose; and I dispute how much impact they have), is still pushing against the school. I guess my point is that this is not sour grapes on her part, she really just doesn’t believe in charter schools, which is ok, free country and all that, it just strikes me as unfortunate that instead of pushing her core issue, aka, “I don’t like Charter Schools”, she instead insinuated racism and classism, implicating charter parents and public and quasi-public officials in the process. That’s unfortunate, and intellectually dishonest. But I can say I respect her to, because she does cling tightly to her beliefs.


It’s Friday! Take a deep breath and have some fun!

I’m not as tech savvy as Kilroy and DDC, after all,¬† I was born in the 1700’s. So I don’t know if this will show up as a video or a link.

I’m not trying to make a political statement, this is my snoopy and the red baron moment-we can fight again later ūüėČ

We all need to relax and have fun once in a while, so watch this video, relax, take a breath and realize that Dale Gribble and the BNL mention or portray many of us in this video-including the charter parents, kilroy, me, DDC, other posters, even Greg Meece and his rash and maybe even Jack M!

No Comments-for Now

I’ve only received three comments so far, I’ve considered whether or not to post them, and decided against it-they’ve all been essentially off-topic, more messages to me than anything else. I don’t plan on turning on comments, because I prefer not to allow harsh language on my blog, and don’t want to be put in the position of only posting some comments.

Census data soon-can’t wait

We’ve heard a lot about racial and income¬† inequities from DDC and others. DDC was in fact, quite eloquant last night (something about dancing and putting it in your face?)

The biggest problem lies in statistical analysis. Consider some facts:

As everyone is aware, Newark Charter School has a 5-mile radius.

If you look at the surrounding elementary schools, the very closest ones, like Downes and West Park and compare them to grades K-5 at Newark Charter, the % of minorities are fairly close. In several grades in several schools, the percentage of white students is actually higher in those CSD schools than in equivalent NCS grades. Confirm this on your own if you would like. Look up the racial data by grade at Downes and then at NCS from the department of education website. One other note, NCS is trending towards more minorities and low income-look at the K-5 compared to 6-8 and you’ll see higher %’s. I’m going to discuss that progression in a later post.

Now it is absolutely true that some of the schools further away have a larger % of minorities. There’s no denying that. But those schools are farther away, and geography is not just a preference for schools (both NCS and CSD), its a preference¬† for parents.

At this point, i’ll address what I’ll call the Sparrow Run Debate.

For anyone that might not know, Sparrow Run is at the outside edge of the five mile radius of NCS. As a matter of fact, the radius cuts through it, with only part of the community within. But map the distance between, say Gull Turn and Patriot Way-that’s 20 minutes direct drive, even further on a school bus with other stops.

As I look at the map, there are at least¬† six CSD schools closer to sparrows run than NCS is. And those parents can apply to any one of them, and NCS as well. And if they don’t choose, they go to an elementary school that is 4 minutes away: Oberle Elementary. By the way-this shows one of the greatest inequities in CSD. Leasure Elementary is closer to Sparrow Run-less than one mile away. It’s a Superior School. But Sparrow Run’s feeder is Oberle, and its on Academic Watch.

But I digress. The point is that they have a neighborhood school, and some kids and parents would prefer a neighborhood school to what we should all agree is an academically better school 20 minutes away. I don’t want to use a broad brush, but at some point a great record is outweighed by distance, quite frankly for everyone. Because if the best school in the state was in Seaford and accepting candidates, I don’t think we’d have many takers in Newark.

Now, I’m sure that there is one thing we all agree on. That not every parent knows the choice laws in Delaware. So why doesn’t NCS canvass the Sparrow Run neighborhood? The answer is pure economics. With limited resources, and a huge waiting list, why would NCS invest any money-even a $1, in recruiting anywhere?

Ok, now for part three-so we’ve established that some parents likely don’t have an interest, and others don’t know about the school. So at this point, who’s at fault? The answer is no one. There is no evidence the lottery is rigged, no evidence that NCS practices targeted recruiting, and no evidence of a huge population of Sparrow’s Run families on a waiting list for Newark Charter. If there is evidence, that I am not aware of, please bring it forward-but evidence, and keep in mind that a fact, even an undisputed one, is not necessarily evidence of causality.

There was a famous study done years ago that said coffee caused heart attacks. But what was later discovered was that coffee drinkers are more likely to smoke cigarettes than non-coffee drinkers. It was the smoking, not the coffee that caused the heart attack. And just like that, the indisputable fact that there are more minorities in other CSD schools does not prove a causal relationship that NCS is racially motivated.

So what can be done? If you look on DDC’s blog (which everyone should read) there is an idea for telling people about choice. Because everyone should know their rights. So let’s find a way to make that happen!

Response to Don’t Destroy Christina

Everyone should read DDC’s comments about last night’s meeting.

I was there as well, and I saw a lot of passion from both sides. Here are some of my thoughts:

I think that the crowd mostly acted with decorum (although I will admit that the term has begun to be overused). Good or bad, this was not a forum for an open debate-it was for public comments, which is different. It was also not the forum to fix CSD’s problems.

What struck me was how there were so many different stories. Stories about kids that were bullied, about low income families, about kids with learning disabilities, and so many other families. And so many unique frames of reference: politicians, administrators, teachers, parents, with kids in and out of NCS and CSD, graduates of CSD schools, and Phd’s.

And there were courageous people on both sides-people who admitted they were low income, parents who didn’t speak English very well, or had stage fright, an eighth grader from NCS, the Hoffman’s who decided to speak up and most certainly risked future gigs, several members of the CSD school board who admitted that they needed to do a better job, etc, etc.

I’m not sure if the law needs to be changed or not. I know there is a relatively new accountability law on the books, but Mr. Kowalko insisted it is not enough, so if there is enough political will, fix it. But don’t blame NCS if they follow a law that you don’t agree with.

A couple last thoughts:

The lottery-I truly believe that the lottery is accurate, but it would be good if it was audited by an outside party. That benefits both sides. NCS and every other school performing a lottery should want the community to have complete faith in the results.

Choice-I don’t think the full burden of signing people up for choice to NCS should fall on CSD and Don’t Destroy Christina. We are a community, and we have a shared responsibility here. I live in a very stable community. But when my neighbors moved in, I told them about choice. We should all do that, and out elected officials should do that as well.

We need to find a way to heal these wounds. I love Newark, and I hate to see these fights.

What Facts? What Logic?

DDC wrote,

“One side with facts and logic about how society should pull together for all. The other with: hey it works for my kid leave me alone.Why should I share or care?”

I say, what facts. Here’s some of the recent¬†“facts” from DDC:

“Fact” #1: Greg Meece is like “The Bruce Dickinson” who¬†produced the biggest hit for Blue Oyster Cult.

FALSE: Only problem is that the analogy isn’t even appropriate. Bruce Dickinson had nothing to do with Don’t Fear the Reaper’s use of Cowbell. According to Wikipedia,¬†several have taken credit for it, but Dickinson wasn’t one of them. So Christopher Walken is playing Greg Meece doing something that neither Greg Meece nor Bruce Dickinson did. Great analogy DDC.

“Fact” #2: Greg Meece is a liar when he states information about the racial profile of the City of Newark.

FALSE:¬†Greg did not say that the city of Newark, nor the¬†entire state¬†matches exactly what the potential school population for NCS could be. By the way, no one has-statistics about surrounding schools are irrelevant-what is relevant would be detailed census data for the census zones in the 5-mile radius. Even this isn’t perfect-some children go to private school, some are home schooled, some are in other charters. And there are those people who prefer to send their children to the nearest elementary school, which is not Newark Charter for most children.

“Fact” #3: The Newark Charter Lottery is rigged.

UNPROVEN ALLEGATION: No evidence of this is provided and no lawsuit has been filed challenging the results of the lottery. No video or photographic evidence provided either.

“Fact” #4: Greg Meece denies entry to Newark Charter based on Zip Code.

FALSE:¬†Greg Meece doesn’t decide anything, it’s the charter that determines where students are pulled from. And of course, it’s all based on a 5-mile radius, not a zip code.

“Fact” #5: Greg Meece is responsible for submitting the charter, and he can change it to bring about racial diversity.

FALSE: The application was submitted by the Board of Directors of the Charter School, not Greg Meece

DDC, you are entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

For those of you that will suggest my enlightening of these mis-stated “facts”, is inappropriate or petty, I say this: DDC indicated that Greg Meece is subject to attack, and I agree with her. However,¬†I would say that DDC¬†should expect¬†to be challenged when she attacks Greg Meece. And she will be challenged here.