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Charters Can Hurt




The appeal of opening a charter school where innovative teaching is encouraged is understandable ("Charter School Rift," Jan 24). But proponents of charter schools would do well to take a realistic look at some of the negative effects of charter schools.

First of all, charter schools are not required to have any unions, including teachers' unions. Many people think that union wages are too high. But think of the costs of unemployment, of providing medical care to the uninsured. Think of the dollars that no longer enter the local economy. Union jobs matter, and whenever a new charter school opens, union jobs are lost.

Second, think of the playing field. Is it right to compare a charter school's test scores to a public school's when the charter school clearly has so few special education students, English learners, and children who are unmotivated to learn due to a lack of role models? Is it even reasonable to compare test scores of schools attended by privileged, motivated children to those schools that take all students? The reasonable answer is "No," but the comparisons continue. Schools' test scores are published with little or no regard for the impact of class, race or language on those very test scores. And is it then fair to reward charter schools with more money for higher test scores?

Finally, to be educated by excellent teachers in a clean, well maintained school that has enough textbooks and technology should be the right of every child in this country. The way to provide that right and put an end to the reality of "good" schools and "bad" schools is to reform school funding.

Leslie R. Leach, Eureka

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