Tuesday, January 05, 2016

'Ongoing War (of words) Over Charter Schools" goes on: THE FALSE CHOICE THAT CHARTER SCHOOLS PROVIDE

Letters to the Editor of the L.A. Times | http://lat.ms/1Rf7rjK
January 5, 2016 | 5AM

To the editor: Your editorial is earnest and lengthy, but ultimately it misses the point. ("Both traditional and charter schools in L.A. Unified could learn from this study," editorial, Dec. 31)

We don't need studies to tell us the obvious: Public schools in Los Angeles need more support, not less. However, encouraging an increasing percentage of public school students to enter the parallel system of charters only takes away resources from existing public schools.

Fundamentally, public schools function as a public trust, open and accountable to all. Charters are public only in regard to their primary source of funding, while the charter agenda is very private: my child, my choice, my single school.
Americans love the idea of choice. But what if the choices are false? What if judging school performance based on a single standardized test score is a fool's errand? What if the public schools had the resources to offer more choices so concerned parents wouldn't feel that they have to go “outside”?

Unless we adequately fund public education and support and improve existing public schools, we are risking our nation's future.

Brad Jones, Santa Monica
The writer is an English teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.::

To the editor: Having had direct professional experience with both charters and regular public schools, I believe The Times got it partially right on charters and traditional public schools working together.

The most important point is that instead of the constant test-score comparisons, policymakers, school officials and charter supporters must understand that the two types of schools share the most important common goal: educating of all Los Angeles' public school kids.

That said, the goal may only be reasonably accomplished through cooperation by both entities with regard to the following: actively addressing the root causes and effects of poverty on public schools, working with universities to develop better teacher and administrator preparation programs, and sharing promising practices and developing mutually acceptable protocols for sharing resources.

Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica


To the editor: The Times misstates the case: It's been a war on public schools.
A synergy of ideas and efforts is a good idea, but who's going to bring this about? The L.A. Unified Board of Education itself is split on the issue.

Perhaps the charters haven't done better (according to the new study out of UC Berkeley) at the high school level because of the inability of parents to motivate their increasingly independent children lessens. Furthermore, many lack the money, education or time to help with the academics.

The Berkeley study would have been more complete if it included an identification of the benefits accruing to the “winners” of this battle.

Hal Rothberg, Calabasas
The writer is an LAUSD substitute teacher.

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