Reviews | The Charter School Debate

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For the editor:

Regarding “End the Fight Over Charter Schools”, by Eve L. Ewing (Op-Ed, February 23):

Why are we allowing two separate but seemingly parallel education systems, using scarce public funds that are taken from traditional public schools to fund charters, an experiment that seems to have gone awry? Why do we allow one entity to be accountable and whose governance is passed down through the constituents of each community and allow the other to avoid the same transparency and accountability?

Here in Ohio, charters are exempt from 150 sections of law that public schools must comply with to operate legally, but public schools are required to support charters with the school district’s transportation system and other services. free of charge.

So no, we can’t stop fighting about charters until we have the same rules for both. If one is exempt from the wholesale sections of the law then by definition it is not a public school but something else, a school which acquires public funds to operate but has its own rules and is free a lot of control.

Denis D. Smith
Westerville, Ohio
The writer, charter school critic, is a former consultant to the charter school office of the Ohio Department of Education, responsible for ensuring legal compliance in charter school operations.

For the editor:

A public assertion that “every child deserves a great school”, along with “the political courage and imagination to make it happen”, as Eve Ewing advocates, sounds great, but totally avoids the deep practical difficulties of getting there in this country.

Much like the problem of fighting the pandemic, only a national effort led by the federal government can effectively solve what is at heart a national problem.

But from its inception, public education has been seen as a local function subject to local funding and control. Thousands of US public school districts have been happy to accept whatever federal funds are available, but have long resisted federal control efforts. The result is the highly disparate quality of public education across the country.

Mustering the political will of the federal government to undertake the financial and political changes necessary to realize Ms. Ewing’s vision seems highly unlikely, particularly when other very costly needs like the pandemic are clamoring for funds and we are overwhelmed by a immense growth of our country’s debt.

Verne Vance
Arlington, Virginia.
The author is a past chairman of the Newton (Mass.) School Committee.

For the editor:

Eve Ewing’s article does not reflect the diversity and success of charter schools. It ignores the more sophisticated analyzes documenting charter schools’ larger gains in reading and math. The longer students stay in charter schools, the more dramatic the results. The evidence is everywhere.

The same report cited by Ms Ewing regarding racial balance found that charter schools had “no discernible impact on metropolitan area segregation” and that “districts within a metropolitan area become more diverse”.

Racially motivated housing models also confine students with no options to the community in which they live, where charter schools provide the freedom to roam entire neighborhoods and often states.

We should fight for and about everything that serves students, especially the less fortunate.

Jane Allen
Washington
The writer is founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform.

For the editor:

Eve Ewing’s analysis leaves out one of the main reasons everyone should care about the charter school debate: school funding. Most people don’t know that most charter schools are funded by taxpayer dollars. This public funding of private charter schools siphons resources from public school budgets.

Ms. Ewing’s call for schools that are welcoming and successful for all students is absolutely right. Taking money from public schools and giving it to private companies in response to this appeal is completely wrong. It’s not hard to see how funding private schools in this way undermines the ability of public schools to serve all students well.

Nancy Hayes
Mount Vernon, Iowa

For the editor:

As a public high school student, I enjoyed Eve Ewing’s points. But the goals that she says should be achieved instead of fighting for the charters are intrinsically tied to the charters.

You can’t fight to pay teachers more when charters won’t let them unionize. You can’t get past the unhealthy dynamic with philanthropists when charters rely on them more than anyone else. We cannot abandon the “shopping” model of choosing schools when it is the very basis of the existence of charter schools.

I go to school in the Indianapolis Public Schools District, which has the ninth highest percentage of charter school students in the nation. Every day I see firsthand the effect charter schools have in undermining the very idea of ​​public education as a universal service that everyone equally deserves.

We cannot address the important issues without addressing the fundamental problem of the privatization of education.

El’ad Nichols-Kaufman
Indianapolis

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