The follow is written by Annalisa Ekbladh, one of the founders of Communities 4 Education, a new affiliate of Parents Across America. For more information or to join the organization, email her at email@example.com
The Delaware ACLU recently issued a letter to Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery (see below), prompted by the controversy surrounding a request to expand the Newark Charter School (NCS) lower grades and add a high school. The ACLU joins opponents of this expansion, including Communities 4 Education, the Wilmington City Council, Delaware’s Black Caucus, the Delaware State Education Association, State Representative John Kowalko and parent groups associated with the traditional public schools.
The ACLU cites many reasons for their opposition, but says NCS contributes to “re-segregation” of public education, and that its lack of a free and reduced lunch program breaks federal and state laws.
Not only is Delaware Charter School law badly outdated, but the policies/procedures employed by the charter school monitors within DOE are woefully inadequate and inconsistent. (See the evaluation completed in March 2011 by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).
The approvals previously granted this charter school, and the blind eye turned toward its non-fulfillment of certain requirements, are typical of the flawed authorization/evaluation processes cited in this report.
Given the prospect of multiple charters being established in downtown Wilmington in the next couple of years, it is essential that the state have in place legislation and authorization procedures that are appropriate for 21st century realities before additional charters are allowed to open.
At this time, Gov. Markell and the General Assembly should be taking two actions:
1. Place all pending charter school applications/reauthorizations on hold until the right now and declare a moratorium on new charter applications until the NACSA report on how to overhaul the state’s processes can be reviewed and its recommendations implemented.
2. Suspend acceptance of any new applications (e.g., for the schools that would be housed in the Wilmington building) until a new law is put into place.
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