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!

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