Reaching out for a better education

    Reach Academy has new life and it has given John Watson some new thoughts for Speakeasy.

    Here is John Watson’s commentary:

    Reach Academy is resurrected at least for one year by a federal judge. Delaware Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, who announced Reache’s closing last November.

    At the time, he said of the situation, “Regardless of gender we believe the quality of the education is most important, and we continue to be concerned with the sustained poor performance of Reach Academy”.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Delaware Department of Education officials, agreeing with Murphy, say the test scores at Reach Academy are among the lowest in the state. Testing is below proficiency in both math and reading last year, and in large numbers. With similar failures in their growth goals, over all, the officials say Reach scores “slid” between last year and this year.

    I often wonder why charter schools are treated more severely than regular public schools, many of which are failing every day, but remain open. The answer appears to be, they remain open with the needed changes of their administrations and teachers. So it seems to me, the Delaware Department of Education should spend more time on that rather than jumping at the chance to close another charter school, especially Reach Academy, which is the only all-girl charter school, opened to match the all boys charter, Prestige Academy.

    The News Journal reports, Atiya Overton, whose daughter attends Reach, says, after sitting in her daughter’s classroom, she saw “her learning and growing”. She added, “I think those test scores don’t tell the right story. If they get enough time to get through some of the problems they had before, they will see the seed grow into a flower. They will prove these girls are doing well”

    Lloyd Casson, Reach’s board president, recognizes the need for better test scores in agreement with Atiya Overton. He said there is more to a school than your test scores, and the judge’s ruling gives them a chance to “deliver on our promise to help our girls learn and become independent self-confident women”.

    Judge Leonard Stark says in his ruling that parents still see Reach as the best choice for their kids, and it could be “problematic for the states argument that keeping kids at Reach is harmful.” He went on to say, students are at Reach Academy by choice. No student is compelled to be there. He added they have no concerns about it being labeled a “failing school.”

    Judge Stark has come to the rescue for one year and probably more, after he has time to review the legal arguments for a final ruling. The judge is siding with the school’s argument that it would be discriminatory to close Delaware’s only all-girls public school, while leaving the all-boys Prestige Academy open. 

    Both the parents and students have nothing but praise for the quality of it’s teaching at Reach Academy.

    But, if Judge Stark does not rule in favor of Reach Academy, the News Journal reports, “There are no other all-girl public schools in Delaware. And the state law that allows single-sex charter schools was allowed to sunset this summer.”

    Can everyone remember the rebirth of Moyer Academy, over and over again? 

    Share your view, we’d like to know how you feel.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal