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posted: 5/19/2014 12:01 AM

Charter schools do need oversight

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Mike Tennis, in his April 29 letter, espouses charter schools and calls for "anti-charter" legislation to be opposed. In support of his position he offers us one fact gleaned from his interpretation of a Wall Street Journal article, which in turn was the Journal's take on a study by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The study, while impressive, does have flaws. Even with ignoring these flaws, taking the study at face value, what Mike has given us is a third-hand view of one fact, taken out of context from a 104-page report.

In reading the report I found the following: Graphs on Pages 29 and 30 of the report show, on average, established charter schools (those in existence since 2009) have a positive impact on reading. Newer charters do not. For math, on average, both new and old charters have a negative impact; Graphs on Pages 57-59 show 71 percent and 75 percent of charters have the same or significantly worse outcomes, in math and reading respectively, than their public counterparts.

While Illinois may be faring better (on average only), the results are partly due to charters manipulating their population (cream skimming) and lower results from public schools due to reduced funding on account of charters.

When you add these results to the fact that private charters have no legal academic or financial accountability to the districts they bilk, they are a scourge to our generally fine public system.

More legislation and accountability are definitely called for if we can't rid ourselves of the corporate charter school cancer.

Read the report and the book "Reign of Error" by Diane Ravitch, our foremost educational historian and researcher.

Walter Naaf

Pingree Grove

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