Response to East Bay Express article, "A New Era for Charter Schools?"

January 22, 2015

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CCSA submitted the following comment in response to the East Bay Express article, A New Era for Charter Schools?.

Many common misperceptions persist about charter schools. The truth is that all charters schools are public schools just like traditional district schools. They are tuition-free and open to any student who wishes to attend. Charter public schools give parents and students a choice in their education. They are diverse and reflect the communities they serve. Charter public schools are held accountable by their authorizer (usually the local school district) and, most importantly, by the families they serve. Currently there are 38 charters schools in Oakland serving an estimated 13,550 students either authorized by the Oakland Unified School District or the Alameda County Board of Education.

Passionate teachers, parents and leaders from the community often choose to open charter public schools in order to drive positive change in public education. Research shows Oakland charter public schools have successfully demonstrated that they are able to deliver a high-quality public education for their students and graduate higher numbers of students ready for college.

In California, public school funding follows the student with the funding going to the public school that parents choose, whether a charter public school or a traditional district school. When charter public schools are funded, there is no overall loss of public school money because charter schools are public schools serving public school kids. However, even with the funding "following the student," charter public schools receive less funding for each student than a school district would if it were to serve the same student.

We can all agree that there is a longstanding lack of quality schools in Oakland. Parents, teachers and community leaders want a role in making things better for Oakland students. We hope that the debate on public education in Oakland will focus on what matters most - finding solutions that provide better outcomes for kids.

Aida Mariam, Regional Director, Alameda County, California Charter Schools Association