Legislator Surveys

As an advocacy organization, the Delaware Charter Schools Network works with our state and national legislators to keep them informed about our charter school movement. A large piece of this work is understanding where our legislators stand on issues related to education, charter schools, and school choice.

DCSN sent out a survey to all 2014 election candidates. Below are the responses we received. Please use this information when you consider your vote on November 4th. If your state or county representative is not listed, than we encourage you to send them an email or a letter and ask them to complete the survey. We have drafted a letter/email template for you to personalize.  It is posted in our Legislative Letter Templates section.

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2014 Delaware Election Candidates

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Questions:

  1. Do you support public school choice?
    • Every child learns differently. To provide the best opportunity for all children to learn, public school choice has been an option in Delaware for the last two decades. Today, 27% of the public school population attend a school of choice, and over 11% attend charter schools. Do you support legislative efforts that would foster the growth of options to meet the educational needs of Delaware’s children including magnet schools, vocational technical schools, and charter schools?
  2.   Equitable funding for charter schools?
    • Unlike district schools, charter schools have limited access to state and local funding to support school facilities. Would you support legislation that would provide equitable funding for all public schools?
  3. Charter school autonomy for innovation?
    • The charter school community understands that we must and will be held accountable for continuous academic growth, as all public schools should. Do you support the philosophy that charter schools should be free of most state and local rules and regulations to be given the autonomy to pioneer innovative strategies in education?
  4. Preferences for schools of choice?
    • Currently, schools of choice have the ability to establish preferences for student applications during a lottery situation. Do you support application preferences in Delaware's schools of choice, including charter schools, magnet schools, and vo-tech schools?

2014 Election Candidate Responses

Candidate: Rich Collins

Candidate for: State Representative, 41st District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes. I'd be happy to discuss your ideas on this issue.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, depends on what would happen to charter school independence if you take too much money from the state. Would you not be forced to serve that master? I'm not an expert on this subject and will be happy to discuss and learn.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes. This speaks directly to my concern about more state funding. Generally speaking, the two don't go together. Let's talk about it.

Preferences for schools of choice? I need more information on this topic. I'm more than willing to learn.

Candidate: Margaret Rose Henry

Candidate for: State Senate, 2nd Senatorial District

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, depends on need of charter school - some are better financed than others.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Fiscal accountability is still necessary as is reporting requirements regarding student enrollment and similar issues

Preferences for schools of choice? Not if they exclude the ability for minority and disadvantaged students to be included.

Candidate: Ruth Briggs King

Candidate for: State Representative, 37th district

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes. As a former educator, I support the ability for parents and students to select the best potential outcome for their education.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes. I believe that we must revisit the school funding in Delaware to ensure fairness and equity in education. This includes career and technical education, charter, magnet and public schools. A student's zip code should not be the sole determinant of their education or the funding for their education.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Maybe. I believe that with the acceptance of funding, there are certain expectations.

Preferences for schools of choice? Maybe, depends on the mission and focus of the school. In some schools, the lottery is not a pure lottery. Additionally, the career technical schools are limiting or barring the students based on grades and other factors that prevent those most interested from acceptance.
While good in concept, fairness is an issue.

Candidate: Glen Howell

Candidate for: Commissioner, 6th District, Levy Court

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes. I support it if non government schools are part of the equation.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Matthew Brown

Candidate for: State Representative, 8th district

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Brian Bushweller

Candidate for: State Senate, 17th District

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Do you support public school choice? Maybe, depends on the nature of the new options that might be proposed and on the demand for those new options among parents and students. I have been a strong supporter of public school choice and charter schools since their inception in the 1990s. My natural predisposition is to look favorably on new options in addition to charter, choice and vo-techs but I would want to learn more about any new options before commenting on them.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, depends on the specific proposal. I do believe that circumstances have changed since the original funding compromises that enabled passage of the charter school legislation. It may be appropriate to reconsider those compromises in light of the success of the charter school movement. However, there would be several important matters to understand if the State were to provide capital funding including, among others, who would decide the location of charter schools.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes

Preferences for schools of choice? Maybe, depends on additional information I would get from discussing this issue with the DCSN.

Candidate: David B. Chandler

Candidate for: State Treasurer

Party Affiliation: Green

Do you support public school choice? I do support school choice. Our local school boards are elected by and responsible to the residents. The state school board is not elected, has become heavy handed, and is taken over by the high-stakes testing mania. I believe a higher portion of school funding should come from state-wide taxation more progressive than the real estate tax. Money spent at the state Education Department should be slashed, and spent at the building level instead. Perhaps there should be a five-year hiatus of any new charter schools except those chartered at the district level.

Equitable funding for charter schools? No. The State's first responsibility is to maintain excellence within the traditional school system. Beyond that, our priority should be to have free tuition for Delaware residents at Delaware State University and Del Tech. In Taiwan (which unfortunately does have high-stakes testing), for instance, tuition is free at the leading university and at other state-run universities. It has also been suggested that poor and/or homeless children are much more expensive to teach effectively, and should be counted as one and a half or two students in the unit count.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.The most important role of schools is to teach children to question authority, not to mold them into compliant workers or college students. Did you know that the U.S. National Institute of Standards has written standards for the adoption of standards, but that the Common Core Standards were adopted in a way which completely bypassed this process. Students should be evaluated by teachers, and teachers by building principals. Standardized testing can provide valuable guidance, but when consequences are attached, it skews the classroom experience. For more reading, I strongly recommend Diane Ravitch.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Jeff Spiegelman

Candidate for: State Representative, 11th district

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Judy Travis

Candidate for: State Representative, 10th district

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Maybe - That is too broad a question. I would have to see what is planned and then proceed from there.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Gary Simpson

Candidate for: State Senate, 18th district

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, depends on availability of additional funds.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Deborah D Hudson

Candidate for: State Representative, 12th District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Maybe-- preferences for aptitude, sports, arts skills? Question is too vague.

Candidate: Jim Startzman

Candidate for: State Representative, 19th District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes. . . As long as academic growth has been met or exceeded, the schools should be allowed to bring innovative strategies and programs to expand the students learning abilities.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes . . . As long as preferences are applied in a common sense and equal way to all students. Students applications must be treated fairly and not be influenced by outside pressure.

Candidate: Kyle Buzzard

Candidate for: State Representative, 6th District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes. Innovation in education is important for providing the educational environment for all of our students. Students should not be stuck in a failing school and should be able to vote with their feet and the funds allotted to them should follow.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes. Innovation in education is extremely important. Not all students learn at the same pace or in the same manner. We need to be able to tailor education plans to meet the needs of the individual students and their educational goals.

Preferences for schools of choice? Maybe, depends on the reason for establishing preference. Schools should not be able to establish preference based on academic achievement alone. Preferences can be established for schools with a specific focus (e.g. vocational-technical or STEM) where the track of the students requires a specific skill set. In such a case, some foundational requirement may be necessary to advance the educational environment for fellow students.

Candidate: Matt Lenzini

Candidate for: State Representative, 15th District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Maybe.

Candidate: John Larry Mitchell

Candidate for: State Representative, 13th District

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Do you support public school choice? Yes. We have excellent Charter Schools that meet the needs of children with directed interests. This benefits the child's learning experience.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, if funding is available to accomplish this. It is very difficult to give an answer of yes without looking at overall revenues and expenditures each year.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Michael Ramone

Candidate for: State Representative, 21st

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Ernie Lopez

Candidate for: State Senate, 6th Distrtict

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Maybe, depends on continued discussion.

Preferences for schools of choice? I would need more information on "schools of choice" and the current status of preferences in order to make a yes or no decision on this question.

Candidate: Joseph Miro

Candidate for: State Representative, 22nd District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Maybe, depends on the stability of the Charter School.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.

Candidate: Theodore A. "Ted" Kittila

Candidate for: Attorney General

Party Affiliation: Republican

Do you support public school choice? Yes.

Equitable funding for charter schools? Yes.

Charter school autonomy for innovation? Yes.

Preferences for schools of choice? Yes.