Markell Orders Statewide Review of Public Schools - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Markell Orders Statewide Review of Public Schools

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell ordered a statewide review of public schools Thursday to determine what student needs are going unmet and ordered a halt to new charter schools until the report is complete.

Markell said the review, which will focus on charter schools, followed a recommendation from a group he established last year to find ways to strengthen public education for children in Wilmington, home to the six lowest-performing district schools in the state.

"The bottom line is that we want to make sure ... our educational offerings reflect what families are looking for," the governor said at a meeting of the state Board of Education.

"We need a strategic plan to ensure that when charter schools open, they fulfill specific unmet needs in the communities they serve," Markell added. "We shouldn't limit this effort to one city or county. It can benefit our education system statewide."

Markell said he expects the review will take the rest of this year. Until it is complete, he said, no new charter schools will be approved. That means no new charters will open in the 2016-2017 school year.

"As the interest in charters continues to grow, we've got to ensure that the schools opening in Delaware are the right ones for our families," he said.

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee recommended in an interim reporter in January that Markell call for a strategic plan for charter schools that includes a desired number and mix of traditional, charter, and vocational/technical schools. It also said no new charter school or expansion of an existing charter school in Wilmington or New Castle County be authorized until the plan is accepted.

Tony Allen, chair of the Wilmington committee, said he supports expanding the group's recommendation.

"It is our hope that a plan for charter schools extends itself to public education in Delaware broadly and forces stronger collaboration across the traditional district, charter and vo-tech boundaries," he said.

Markell said the plan will include identifying school programs where demand exceeds capacity, such as career and technical education schools, and analyzing demographic trends to ensure, for example, that the needs of English language learners are being met.

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