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Parents voice opposition to Christina’s charter moratorium request

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

a group of people on a stage

The Christina School District board heard from members and parents opposed to a charter school moratorium.

Two parents opposed to Christina School District’s request for a moratorium on new or expanding charter schools said the move would inhibit parents’ right to choose where their kids went to school.

The moratorium, approved in February’s board meeting, called for a statewide temporary moratorium on new charter schools and the expansion of existing charter schools. To be effective, a legislator will have to create a new bill in the state legislature and have it passed into law.

Parental choice is the backbone of Board Member Dr. Naveed Baqir’s opposition to the moratorium, which he reiterated at Tuesday’s meeting.

Baqir also told the board that it should leave that decision to legislators, he said.

“Pick your battleground,” said Baqir. “We should focus on building bridges and focus on accomplishments. Anything that helps our children succeed in life.”

Related: Two Christina board members to revisit charter moratorium request

Board member Donald Patton, who also voted against the moratorium, said that public and charter schools need to collaborate rather than taking “potshots” at each other.

He has said that district officials are worried because 7,434 of their students are in charter schools, which reduced the district share of state money.

“We need to stop the bleeding,” Patton said Tuesday night, reiterating that every parent has the right to decide where they send their child.

Alexis Simms, a mother whose three children attended Delaware charter schools, took to the podium during the board’s public comment session to express support for charter schools.

 “I removed my oldest from a district school that was not serving her needs in second grade, and moved her to a charter school, where she thrived,” Simms said.

 Simms believes there is a systemic problem with Delaware schools, in that Black and Brown students are inadequately served by Delaware’s public education. 

As a result, she said, minority students often fall through the cracks and parents are forced to make difficult decisions on what’s best for their children.

“Parents and students deserve to choose what is best for their educational journey,” she said.

Friere Charter School should not be prevented from expanding into Newark, she said.

Black and Brown families rely on charters like Friere to ensure a quality public education and a fair shake for our children,” she said.

Another parent talking via Zoom cited statistics from the Rodel Foundation saying more than 50% of Delaware students identify as “people of color,” yet less than 20% of staff identify as such.

“My children need to see themselves in their educators,” she said.

At Friere Charter, about half of the staff is minority, she said.

She said supporters of the moratorium who say they want to focus on collaborating and implementing ideas from the Wilmington Learning Collaborative and the Redding Consortium, should not let those efforts interfere with her right to choose what is best for her children.

Baqir said he hopes the additional discussion Tuesday will set the stage for next month’s meeting, during which he intends to make a motion to establish partnerships with charters.

“My intention is to reduce the adversarial relationship and develop a collaborative process where students come first,” he said.

 Christina School District’s next school board meeting will be April 12 at 7 p.m. at The Bancroft School.

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