Joe Shahen in Times Union: Charter schools offer more options

Posted by on 07 / 20 / 2015 0 Reactions

In this Times Union letter to the editor, Joe Shahen responds to recent charter criticisms, saying, "Successful charter schools should be lauded for doing something different and helping kids learn, not vilified for trying to break the cycle of failing schools."

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Charter schools offer more options

The July 6 letter by David Pace painted charter schools as an albatross, a corporate tool meant to “put public schools out of business.” Here’s a thought for Mr. Pace: Charter schools are public schools, and their only business is educating children.

Mr. Pace likened charters to having a rival state government. While we would never have a separate “charter New York state government,” we do have elections. Just as people are free to choose their legislators, parents should be free to choose a school for their children.

The question the letter seemed to pose, as captured in the headline, was: “Why are charters appealing?” The answer is simple: Parents want options, and charter schools work.

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The Times Union has noted that KIPP Tech Valley charter school is a quality middle school option in Albany, and charter elementary schools have outperformed the Albany district schools on state exams. This isn’t a big business movement; these are schools in districts that need them, trying to make sure kids get a good education – and they’re doing it with less money than district schools.

To say that it isn’t a surprise Albany has a middle-school crisis and that the schools have always been struggling offers no solution. Rather than “keep the same faith” in a failing school system, steps should be taken to try and solve the problem and make sure there are quality options available to all families at all grade levels.

Successful charter schools should be lauded for doing something different and helping kids learn, not vilified for trying to break the cycle of failing schools.

Joe Shahen
Northeast Charter Schools Network

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This letter originally appeared on the Times Union


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