Opinion
School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor

Book on Charter Schools Draws Mixed Reactions

April 26, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

As a charter operator and a member of the California Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, I read with great interest your article on the new Economic Policy Institute book on charter performance (“Book Faults Achievement in Charter Schools,” Commentary, April 6, 2005). The book asserts that, on average, charter schools do not outperform district schools.

While I would debate that conclusion, it is neither particularly relevant nor useful, even if true. School performance on average means little. The point is that charter schools give parents a choice in public schools. We should support the good ones and close down the low-performing ones after giving them a fair chance. It makes no sense to stop new charters or to dispense with the concept because some are worse than others.

Both charter and district public schools should have to perform to survive. No one is forcing parents to choose charter schools in such droves. I say no more security for schools not serving the public well.

Mark Kushner

San Francisco, Calif.

To the Editor:

I note, in your recent story, that “some charter school supporters” accused The Charter School Dust-Up of being biased. “Several also suggested” that the book was influenced by money from the American Federation of Teachers.

Why would these “some” and “several” not stand up and identify themselves? And why, in the absence of identification, would Education Week include this non-information?

Michael J. Petrilli of the U.S. Department of Education referred to the Economic Policy Institute as “the union think tank.” I wonder if Mr. Petrilli thinks of his former employer, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, as “the corporation think tank.”

Did this comment and that of Nelson Smith, the president of the Charter School Leadership Council, actually deserve to see print?

Gerald W. Bracey

Alexandria, Va.

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