VIEWPOINT: Keep digital tools for students accessible
Not every school is best for every child, and, in Delaware, you have the opportunity to choose the school that best fits your child’s needs. For the 2021 – 22 school year, families of 17,201 students made a charter school choice and this school year we will likely see even more Delaware students enrolled in charter schools.
Charter schools are free, independent, public schools that play a critical role in Delaware’s public education landscape. In 1995, the charter school law was passed with the goal of increasing choices for families and raising the academic performance of all Delaware schools. Today, 23 charter schools offer an abundance of options for families of the First State and it is our mission to help improve and expand existing schools, encourage the creation of new charters, ensure that all of Delaware’s charter schools remain accountable and high performing, and support the dissemination of best practices learned in our schools so that the positive impact for children can be found across all of Delaware’s schools.
When families are looking for information as to where to send their children to school, they overwhelmingly rely on digital tools to help make their decision. Based on knowing this about families, we created space on our website where you can put in your address and all the charter schools close to you will come up, or you can look at a full directory of all charter schools in Delaware. As well, many schools, both charter and district, have information on their websites and social media channels about their schools and the opportunities available for students and families.
Schools and families alike use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more to share information about their schools including school mission, school culture, and enrollment opportunities.
Given the importance of digital tools to charter schools and the families they serve, we are concerned about a bill in Congress, S.2992 (The American Innovation and Choice Online Act) that has the real potential to make use of those tools more difficult for all Americans.
This bill would make it illegal for any major platforms to “self-preference” any product that they own. As the think tank R Street has said, “everything from offering private labels, such as Amazon Basics, to having Google Maps show up in Google searches to running an app store may be perceived as potentially unlawful conduct” under S.2992.
If YouTube (which is owned by Google) results are not returned in search results; if Google Map directions are not returned in search results; if we cannot cross post on Facebook and Instagram, and so many other “ifs”, it can have a real negative impact on the charter school community’s ability to effectively communicate with current and future charter school families.
While we fully appreciate the need for appropriate regulation that ensures competition in the technology industry, we would ask our Delaware congressional delegation to fully study the potential impacts of the legislation on the Delaware community, especially our charter school families, before considering the bill.
Kendall Massett serves as executive director of Charter School Network.