Other States’ Charter Environments Passing Delaware By
Delaware’s charter school environment –ranked 13th with a B average last year – received a C and saw its ranking slip to 14th in The Center for Education Reform’s recently released report: Charter School Laws Across the States.
Delaware’s decreased score and ranking shouldn’t surprise anyone since current federal reform efforts (Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants) place a premium on high-quality charter school environments that promote autonomy in exchange for rigorous accountability, which are critical to success. In assessing this environment, Delaware:
- received zero points for facilities funding;
- received three out of 15 points for multiple authorizers; and
- lost three points due to our state’s implementation and accountability.
Looking at this further, one must ask – how are we going to effectively educate ALL Delaware students when the state provides minimal capital improvement funding to charter schools in order to effectively utilize adequate space – forcing them to set up shop in trailers, move locations from year to year, or eliminate existing space to make room for other classrooms? Or similarly, how can we educate ALL Delaware students when charter schools must dip into their operating fund – which is typically used for salaries, supplies, etc. – in order to pay for their buildings?
As a state, we need to realize the potential of charter schools – similar to those high-performers outlined in recently released documentaries Waiting For Superman and The Lottery – to create an innovative education landscape and create the conditions that encourage their success. This means holding schools accountable, through performance benchmarks such as those given to East Side Charter and restart conditions provided at Moyer, improving our authorizing process and number of authorizers, which may be part of the recent grant award from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and implementing the advice of the LEAD Committee and other nationally recognized policy organizations by providing access to resources to facilities through options such as bond funding through counties and/or the state or providing a supplemental per-student allocation to their minor capital budget. Only then can we regain our footing and continue being out front of this potentially transformative movement.