Editor’s note: In the LA Times yesterday, Diane Ravitch argued passionately that the future of public education in Los Angeles depends on whom the LA Unified board selects as its next superintendent.
She wrote, “The ideal superintendent would have the courage, and the support of the board, to resist those who seek to undermine and privatize public schools.” The entire commentary, which was included in yesterday’s LA School Report, can be read here. In a response, Sarah Angel, the California Charter Schools Association Managing Director, Regional Advocacy—Los Angeles, offers a different view.
In a recent L.A. Times op-ed, pundit Diane Ravitch called on the LAUSD board to hire a superintendent who would prevent new charter public schools from opening. Vilifying charters as an enemy of public education, Ravitch hurls her usual accusations against the charter school community, including its teachers and students. But just because she repeats the same incendiary messages over and over again, that doesn’t make them true.
Ravitch accuses charter schools of excluding students, but the data here in Los Angeles says otherwise. Independent charters in LAUSD serve 1 percent more English learners and 2 percent fewer students with special needs than traditional schools do. In other words, there’s basically no difference in the students being served. It’s also worth noting that both English learners and students with special needs perform better in local independent charters than in traditional schools.
Ravitch laments charter schools’ lack of accountability, but charter schools are held to greater accountability standards than other public schools. How? Each charter school has to petition for renewal every five years using data that shows how well it is educating its students; if it has failed to perform, it gets shut down. No other type of public school has to prove that it is actually helping students learn.