Over At Kilroy’s: What About The (Charter) Children?

Filed in National by on October 31, 2011

I’ve been having a back and forth with Kilroy over at his blog.  It all started with this thought in his post entitled: Pennsylvania moves towards school voucher.

I feel the Delaware legislators should consider legislation the provides school vouchers for students of failed charter schools if the Delaware Department of Education doesn’t secure seats in another charter school or traditional school with a rating of Superior or Commendable with direct transportation provided to students.

I shot off this comment in response to another commenter:

Arthur, I agree that children of a failed charter shouldn’t be given vouchers – sorry if I wasn’t clear. They should be returned to their feeder school. If the parent doesn’t want them to attend their feeder school, then the parent can either find another charter or pay tuition for a private school.

Which sparked this post about my comment.  Kilroy holds his ground.

The comments suggest that if a student leaves a failing traditional public school for a charter school and if that charter school fails and is closed by the state, the student should just go back to their feeder school or find another charter. But I support a child in this case receives a school voucher equaling the per student cost of the charter school ordered closed. Call it victim compensation.

Here’s my problem with Kilroy’s “victim compensation” voucher idea:  He limits the victims.  He is saying that the family whose child is attending a charter that closes has demonstrated the desire to leave/escape a public school, therefore that child deserves a voucher.

I wondered about the children who applied to the charter but didn’t get in? Didn’t they demonstrate the same desire? Should we give them vouchers, as well? If not, why not?

And what about the child with no advocate willing, or able, to complete a charter application? Would they not be considered victims?  Shouldn’t any child in a failing school be considered a victim?  And if we do consider them victims, then wouldn’t they be eligible for vouchers and direct transportation?

Go back to his first post where he calls for legislation.  He is saying that it is the DOE’s responsibility to secure seats for the children of a failed Charter at “another charter school or traditional school with a rating of superior or commendable…”

Seriously?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who would have a problem with these families being moved to the front of the Choice line.  How is it fair that people who have opted out of the public school system be given preferential treatment over those who have stayed in the system?  I might start attending school board meetings to witness the fireworks.  And the public school parents who end up being bumped down the list would have a strong grievance.

Another commenter already figured out a way to game Kilroy’s idea:

So if this comes to pass, let’s start “PlanToFail Academy.” It won’t cost much since we can rent by the month, and it’s not like we need books or anything. We can have all our kids into top schools by this time next year!

Funny, but true.

And another commenter, Observer, clears up the issue by placing the responsibility where is belongs.

I have an idea… Let’s make a law/rule that says existing charter schools & any new charter school must develop a plan for what happens to their students if they fail academically and/or financially. This should be a requirement. They want to exist, so they need to come up with the fallback plan. This puts the responsibility for charter school success & failure where it belongs – on the people that started them. The state shouldn’t need to come up with or pay for what happens to the children of the failed charter schools. Charter schools took them out of the traditional system, they should document a plan of how to reintegrate them if something goes wrong. If they refuse to come up with the plan, then they should be closed.

Observer for the win.

In a lot of ways Charters remind me of Too Big To Fail.  Everyone is all about the free market until there’s trouble.  And I’m beginning to wonder if the public (especially the Charter parent) understands how Charters are supposed to work.  Perhaps every parent enrolling their child in a Charter school needs to sign a form stating they understand that they are leaving the public school system for an experimental system and if the school closes they are on their own.

Many parents have experienced this exact scenario in cases of the closing of Catholic schools.  In fact, according to Kilroy’s logic perhaps these Catholic school children should have received vouchers since the DOE didn’t secure seats in another charter school or traditional school with a rating of Superior or Commendable with direct transportation provided to students.

Sorry to pick on you, Kilroy, but you’re way off base on this one.  I still adore you, tho!

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (27)

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  1. cassandra m says:

    This is excellent blogging, P.

    It is pretty remarkable to me that we can spend so much time on charters and vouchers and all kinds of other schemes instead of just making the system we have work.

  2. pandora says:

    Thanks, Cassandra. Giving Charter students preferential treatment boggled my mind. If your Charter closes you should end up in the same boat as everyone else. It shouldn’t be up to the DOE and everyone else to bail them out – at the expense of students already in the public system.

    And I’m not trying to be mean, just fair.

  3. Kilroysdelaware says:

    “In fact, according to Kilroy’s logic perhaps these Catholic school children should have received vouchers since the DOE didn’t secure seats in another charter school or traditional school with a rating of Superior or Commendable with direct transportation provided to students.”

    Great post and thanks for being objected. But the above comment is a bit distorted.

    Vouchers for all students would damage the public school system and every student currently in private school would suck the funding out of local school district. Currently by choice parents of private school students pay their local school tax “and” private school tuition. Local school district keep that share of school taxes for services not rendered. Yes, we have seniors paying school taxes and receive no services.

    I don’t believe the state should save charter school but they need to realize the experiment is over and we should know what works and what does not. Jack Markell seems to be at this crossroad and new charter schools will be tougher to get approval. However, DEDOE is the charter school authorizing agent prescribed in Title 14 Chapter 5 and they are also to the oversight authority. Reach and Pencader charter schools were on the verge of closure by the state due to issues with finances not academics. According to he law Jack Markell signed in 2009, I believe HB119, that law requires each public school district and charter school to establish a Citizen Budget Oversight Committee and charged DEDOE with the responsibility to make sure it gets done. Also, DEDOE is to assign a representative to those committee. To suggest DEDOE has an inactive role in charter schools is false. The reason I suggest a voucher or will settle with a law or policy the adds burden on the state to formulate a plan that addresses the transition of students in a charter school being closed by the state to other schools. We just can’t close public schools as charters are and say,”you’re on your on parents and students”. I just want to see a policy to address this area. And yes I can go along with parents signing an acknowledgement that if the charter school closes they would be on their own to find other placement.

    Thanks for being fair Pandora.

  4. cassandra m says:

    Which is really the head-scratching part of this — why aren’t *all of the kids* (charter and public school) worthy of referential treatment?

  5. think123 says:

    Is there anything about the United States conservatives like? They loath public schools, teachers unions, public employees, the universities, the government, the President, energy policy, immigration policy, General Motors, Social Security, Medicare, the Media, and half the population. Other than that they love the USA.

  6. John Young says:

    Interesting issue, let’s be clear about charters though. In Delaware. Charter schools ARE public schools. 100%. Public money moves from traditional public school to charter public school. So what about a traditional public school child that is failed by the system?

  7. cassandra m says:

    So why is the system failing this traditional public school child and why aren’t the people in charge of the system fixing that?

  8. pandora says:

    This has always been the problem with Choice, Charters and Vouchers. All of these options involve leaving certain kids behind. All sound great until space is filled – and there is only so much space.

    What all three of these do is create dumping ground schools. You know, the schools filled with children who either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get into one of these situations.

    It also pits Choice/Charter/Voucher parents against Public School parents. Which suits those in charge and lets them off the hook.

  9. John Young says:

    agree cassandra, 100% agree

  10. John Young says:

    Choice and Charter parents are public school parents

  11. pandora says:

    Choice and Charter parents are public school parents

    Then if their Charter closes they should return to the public school system (or pay for private) without complaint.

  12. John Young says:

    pandora, I agree.

  13. pandora says:

    John, this topic frustrates me, and I do adore Kilroy, but… it always seems that Charters want to embrace their “public” school status when it suits them while turning their back on them when it doesn’t.

  14. Jeremy F says:

    Why not simply give *every* student in Delaware a voucher equal to the cost of their public school education? If the student chooses their public school, the money goes there. Otherwise it follows the student to whichever school they attend.

  15. Geezer says:

    Jeremy: What a great idea! Because if there’s anything we need more of in education, it’s wasteful spending.

    Seriously, think about this for, oh, 10 seconds. Look at the problems we’ve had with charter schools being started up by incompetents, despite some level of supposed state oversight. Now multiply that by about 10,000.

  16. pandora says:

    Jeremy, it won’t work for everyone. There simply isn’t enough building space. What happens if everyone at Dickinson and McKean (just examples) wanted to use their voucher for St. Marks or A.I. duPont.

    While some private schools have some space, it won’t be enough – and they wouldn’t have to take anyone they didn’t want. And if you’re dealing with a superior/commendable rated public school there’s not enough room there, either… unless you want to increase taxes to build on wings? And even then, they can only expand so far.

  17. anon says:

    Everyone should also get a voucher equal to their estimated use of the public roadways. If they use the streets and byways more than expected they owe a surcharge and if they are shut-ins and Tea Party Patriots who never leave the warm glow of Fox News, they can keep the balance.

  18. John Young says:

    Pandora,

    We are in sync on this thread. I share your frustration. Imagine how ridiculous it is to have NCS school leader write a letter to the editor bashing Christina for not paying him more money based on a referendum passed by taxpayers who expect the money to go to CSD, not NCS. Meanwhile his school skims the best kids and delivers stellar results. I am not an NCS hater by any means, but stop pretending here. Specific interest clauses and suspect lotteries are just two problems with DE charter schools….

  19. John Young says:

    BTW Pandora, I aspire to be adored by you in the DE blogosphere someday ;)

  20. Jeremy F says:

    “Jeremy, it won’t work for everyone. There simply isn’t enough building space. What happens if everyone at Dickinson and McKean (just examples) wanted to use their voucher for St. Marks or A.I. duPont.”

    Isn’t this a case of ‘perfect is the enemy of good’? A small improvement in the outcome, in this case more students receiving a superior education (however his/her family measures it) is better than the status quo. Right?

  21. D. Kennedy says:

    “Then if their Charter closes they should return to the public school system (or pay for private) without complaint.”

    What if the public school is also failing? I taught in the Strawberry Mansion, Germantown and Olney sections of Philadelphia for eleven years before moving to the Brandywine School District. The majority of the public schools there (and in the entire city for that matter) are horrifying! Many of the charters in those areas (as they are in most of the city) are not much better. The only real option for most parents in these areas is private school. However, since the vast majority of them live at or below the poverty level, private school is simply not an option. So, they are forced to send their children to incredibly violent, unsafe, failing schools where they are being ill prepared to function beyond an elementary level. And you are telling me that these parents should simply accept this situation and take it “without complaint”!? Do you have any other brilliant suggestions? Maybe they should all just move to Lower Merion, or just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, right? That doesn’t seem to be a very “progressive” philosophy.

    You pretend to truly care about children, yet have such a crass attitude. If you truly cared about these kids, you would support any measure that would help them get out of these schools. If your child was forced to attend some of these schools, you would be screaming bloody murder, and rightfully so. I wonder if your opposition to school vouchers has anything to do with the fact that it is widely supported by conservatives. God forbid you’d ever support something favored by them; even if it would help some of our most needy kids.

  22. D. Kennedy says:

    “Jeremy: What a great idea! Because if there’s anything we need more of in education, it’s wasteful spending.”

    So instead of trying to fix the problem, we just keep spending wastefully on programs etc. we know don’t work! That’s just brilliant, Geezer.

    As I stated previously, I am a BSD teacher and I can attest to the fact that the money wasted in our district is obscene and, quite often, done so with little to no results. But, as long as the teachers’ unions keep the money and continue to support democrats, why mess with that system, right?

  23. Geezer says:

    I’m dismayed that someone as stupid as you, D.Kennedy, is teaching children. Do you always teach them that there are only two solutions to every problem, the one you love and the one you hate? In my experience, most problems have myriad solutions, and many of them are worse than the original problems.

    Those who know me know I support school choice and charter schools. But giving every child a voucher is tantamount to allowing any charlatan to start a school and steal public money — heck, we’re already almost there with some of these charters. If you were smarter, you’d understand that without me telling you.

    You’re also an ungrateful jerk-off. You benefit from the existence of teachers’ unions — I’m no fan of them myself — yet slag them for political reasons. If you weren’t so intellectually deficient, I’d tell you to research what teachers’ pay was like before unions got involved. But you’re too busy massaging the sphincters of the 1% to get it.

  24. JustSomeGuy says:

    “Plan To Fail Academy.” Perfect name:) Charter schools are 99% scam 1% idealistic attempt to push an agenda. But a great way to make a quick buck!

  25. pandora says:

    Oh my, my, my. Where to begin?

    You pretend to truly care about children, yet have such a crass attitude. If you truly cared about these kids, you would support any measure that would help them get out of these schools.

    I do care about these children, but the difference between you and me is that I care about all of them. I have spent many years fighting for improving our high poverty schools – fighting for things like smaller class sizes, more teachers, more money. You see, I don’t like the Titanic Lifeboat solution – Just save some and the rest be damned.

    If your child was forced to attend some of these schools, you would be screaming bloody murder, and rightfully so.

    My children did attend a high poverty public school – Warner. And while we did pull them out (after 4 years) our problem wasn’t with the children attending that school – it was with a district who refused to fund and support what their policies deliberately created.

    I wonder if your opposition to school vouchers has anything to do with the fact that it is widely supported by conservatives. God forbid you’d ever support something favored by them; even if it would help some of our most needy kids.

    *sigh* I’m so weary of poor, little conservative victims. I don’t support vouchers because they don’t solve the problem and will leave children behind. See how I care about all the children.

    But what amazes me is how someone with your attitude would be teaching in public schools. You obviously don’t believe in the system given your desire to dismantle it rather than improve it. Perhaps, your attitude towards these children you’re okay with leaving behind is part of the problem with public schools?

    Vouchers would help the few, not the many, and you seem perfectly fine with that fact. Me? Not so much.

  26. puck says:

    “as long as the teachers’ unions keep the money and continue to support democrats”

    I think we found DK’s real issue right there. DK is willing to use students as political pawns in partisan gamesmanship. If Republicans want teacher support they are going to have to try harder.

    If you think teachers aren’t supporting Republicans now, just try breaking the unions and see what happens.

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