Delaware Charter Schools: Weighing the Educational and Taxpayer Pros and Cons
The number of charter schools in the state has increased. So the debate about the effectiveness of traditional public schools versus charters continues.
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Like most parents, Newark area residents Sharon Kurfuerst and Eve Buckley want the best education for their children. For Kurfuerst, that means bypassing the district high school and sending her kids to a public charter school, while Buckley’s three children are split between a Christina School District elementary school and a private school.
What Kurfuerst and Buckley both share is choice—a word that’s fueled debate since Delaware’s first charter schools opened in 1996.
Advocates say charter schools give students an alternative to the traditional learning model found in district schools.
“Charter schools aren’t changing the education landscape in Delaware; they are contributing to it by providing choice,” says Kendall Massett, executive director of the nonprofit Delaware Charter Schools Network. “District schools aren’t leaving a gap; they are providing one kind of learning environment, and charters are providing another. It’s not a matter of which is more effective. It’s about what school works best for each child.”
But critics argue that academic performance at some of the state’s charter schools is the same or worse than district schools. They also claim the charter system encourages segregation, lacks accountability to taxpayers and bleeds money and the best students from district schools.