Charter schools provide equal opportunity for choice

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Re: “Schools are being re-segregated,” by Tom Campbell, July 25:

Tom Campbell’s argument that charter schools “re-segregate” students is a complete misrepresentation of the composition and success of charter schools. The stark reality is the majority of the 100,000 North Carolinians enrolled in them are minority and at-risk students whose needs weren’t met by the offerings of traditional, zoned public schools.

Let’s define segregation clearly. As Education Post editor Chris Stewart, an African American parent who supports diversity and choice, argues, “If parents are engaging in school choice, you may have racial ‘stratification’ but you cannot possibly have racial ‘segregation.’” For families who historically have been denied school choice, charter schools offer the same opportunity affluent parents have always had: to decide what’s best for their children. Sounds like Campbell may have a problem with equal opportunity.

Charter schools were never supposed to look like traditional district public schools. Charters don’t mimic their busing patterns or cafeteria procedures, just as they don’t adopt the same teaching or governing strategies. Instead, they work to create programs and provide services in ways that emphasize practices focused primarily on achievement, and secondarily on how the school serves that goal.

Like many knee-jerk opponents, Mr. Campbell ignores the heightened accountability charter schools face, from their own individual governing board to direct oversight by the state. The most local of control is a charter, where oversight, governance, teaching, money and parent choice revolve around the school. The result is a highly successful sector, boasting more As and Bs compared to public schools with at-risk students.

Jeanne Allen


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