Selected readings on US charter schools
I read with interest the article “Ravitch: America’s public schools are in danger — During talk in Princeton, she blames the erosion of public education on promoting charter schools, voucher system” (Nov. 6). Historian of education Diane Ravitch had quite a lot to say about charter schools, but it seems she did not take the time to research the true impact charter schools are having on the students of New Jersey.
As an administrator and founder of a successful charter school in Hamilton Township, I strongly disagree with Ms. Ravitch’s assertions that the promotion of charter schools and the school voucher system are responsible for the erosion of the public education system.
Ms. Ravitch erroneously criticized charter schools for using public funding that could have been used for public schools. Charter schools are public schools, and most charter schools in New Jersey are educating students for less than 90 percent of the per-pupil allocation.
She stated that charter schools do not accept children with disabilities or who speak English as a second language in order to ensure better test results. The fact is that charter schools are open to all students on a space-available basis with preference given only to children who reside in the district where the charter school is located. According to law, charter schools cannot discriminate in its admission policies or practices —- the same as public schools.
The most recent report (March 2013) on New Jersey’s charters published by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Education showed that New Jersey charter schools significantly outperform their district school peers. Gov. Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf have been consistent in their support of charter schools and their ability to make larger learning gains in both reading and math than traditional public school peers.
Charter schools — their administrators, staff and faculty — are proud of the job we are doing and in our contributions to educating the children of New Jersey. Perhaps Ms. Ravitch should rouse the traditional public schools that are in danger to reach out to their local charter schools to learn what best practices they are implementing to achieve academic success.
Source: NJ.com – by Debbie Pontoriero (Founder and head of school of the Pace Charter School of Hamilton)