While school choice is under fire in some states, Delaware continues to expand its charter school and school choice programs.
The ability to choose where children go to school, irrespective of zip code helps to raise the education bar and provides opportunities those in lower income locals would never receive otherwise.
Delaware is an example of a choice-friendly state where one third of public school-attending children take advantage of choice opportunities. Once again, they’re opening up applications for those wishing to participate in school choice or charter school initiatives.
Delaware Online writes:
They’re the opening and closing days of the window to apply to choice into a public, charter or vocational-technical school other than the one assigned by the district.
A third of the students in Delaware public schools use choice.
Nolan Giles of North Wilmington will be among the crowd when he starts kindergarten next year.
“I want to make sure that my son is challenged academically,” his mother, Kelly, wrote in an email about why she is going for choice. “I would love for him to have teachers that make him feel safe and excited to learn. I have narrowed it down to about three schools based on their scores, recommendations of parents with children in the schools and the strong community family they seem to have.”
Students enroll for various reasons — some for locational convenience, but most for the best educational fit.
Kajsa Haracz of North Wilmington is weighing multiple factors in choosing a high school for her son Lukas, and the most important is “the best fit in academics.”
He’s at Springer Middle, and they’re looking at all three Brandywine School District high schools. He could walk to Brandywine; his sister is in the International Baccalaureate program at Mount Pleasant; and he’s checked out Concord, too. Haracz said they’re considering “social, discipline, programmatic and convenience issues.”
“Every child learns differently, and parents are becoming more educated around what that means and are looking for the best opportunity for their child,” said Kendall Massett, its executive director.
Another factor is probably proximity. The state hasn’t mapped enrollment this way in years, but charters earlier were heavily drawing nearby students, with a notable exception being the Charter School of Wilmington, which U.S. News calls the 70th best high school in the country.
Public school enrollment remains steady, but charter school attendees increase yearly.
As of Sept. 30, 2015, there were 135,517 students in public and charter schools, up less than a percent from the year before. Charter school enrollment hit 14,112, up almost 13 percent from the year before. Figures for this school year are still being calculated by the state.
The states breaks down enrollment this way: 90,925 not using choice, 16,603 choosing within the district, 6,468 choosing out of the district, 7,336 choosing vo-techs and 14,112 choosing charters.
Enrollment in nonpublic schools in Delaware last year fell to 19,517, its lowest point in the last 20 years and well below its high of 28,216 in 2004.
Delaware has 25 charter schools, the state says, and that will go down to 24 for the next school year, when Prestige closes. It has 16 traditional school districts and three vo-tech districts.
Great work, Delaware. Now if only more states would move in the same direction.
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