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Letter: Charter schools helping to solve education crisis

Charter schools helping to solve education crisis

We applaud Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash for his apparent willingness to embrace charter schools as part of what “will help students to grow and to thrive.”

It’s a smart move. Buffalo’s charter schools serve 20 percent of the district’s students, have nearly 4,000 more names on waitlists, and outperform district schools on exams and graduation rates, often by dramatic margins.

It is time for this conversation and for concrete steps toward collaboration. Charters are proving their value to children, families and the city as a whole. Buffalo cannot sustain its remarkable turnaround without better public schools. Charters are helping.

We hope the School Board engages on the topic with sincerity. To solve Buffalo’s education crisis, we need to use whatever options work best for the children.

That said, we’re deeply concerned about Cash’s misstatement about the students charters educate. Charters enroll through a blind lottery; there has never been a shred of evidence that charters, as he alleged, “cherry pick” students. Many factors affect enrollment patterns, but a desire to turn away children is not one of them.

If Cash is serious about working with charters, he’ll need to get beyond myths and deal with facts. It’s hard to build trust and work toward a common goal when one partner suggests the other is a cheater.

Cash’s embrace is welcome and we look forward to the next steps. But Buffalo’s kids – and the city’s future – can ill afford more misconceptions, misinformation and myths halting real progress.

Andrea Rogers

New York State Director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network

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