Readers React

How well-intentioned progressives created the need for charter schools

To the editor: Chaos in the classroom, restorative justice, teachers unions threatened by charter schools — how did we get here? The public schools have been fighting decline for decades. It's not drugs that wrecked public schools; it is the focus of education leaders.

In the late 1960s, a well-intentioned judge with the support of progressive educational leaders decided that schools were the place to cure society's ills. The judge ruled that not only was it important to bring disadvantaged children to better schools, but it was only fair that students from good neighborhood schools should be bused to city schools to improve performance there.

Hence, the exodus of the upper middle class from L.A. city schools and the birth of hundreds of private schools. Public schools in Los Angeles declined.

Charter schools are an attempt to give working-class parents the same choices that wealthier families have in picking schools. Do they want teachers focused on taming unruly students who don't want to learn, or would they prefer schools focused on math, science and English?

Oren Grossi, Long Beach

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To the editor: The Times should stop whining over reasonable and needed initiatives like the one by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education to make charter schools account for what they actually do with public tax money in the same way that conventional public schools must account. ("It's time to stop the whining about charter schools," editorial, Nov. 10)

After all, accountability in public schools is one of The Times' most fervent crusades. Charter schools get public tax money and should file the same Standardized Account Code Structure budget reports that conventional public schools must file and should be subject to the same audits as conventional public schools.

What's unreasonable about that?

John F. Rossmann, Tustin

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To the editor: Indeed, stop whining over charter schools — keep screaming and continue introducing proposals to stop them. Los Angeles is now ground zero for the attempt to privatize schools.

Eli Broad's charter school expansion in Louisiana, opportunistically launched after Katrina, has disastrously created a privatized, unregulated system that has left the “least desirable” students behind and teachers without union support.

The argument that parents need a “choice” between neglected, underfunded public schools and privately run, non-unionized alternatives is false and preposterous. The board members whose campaigns have been funded by these private interests may be invested, but that's no justification for the appalling neglect of our schools while promoting charters.

If Broad's motives are indeed centered on improving education, let him use his wealth and power to strengthen our existing school system.

Wendy Blais, North Hills

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To the editor: The Times should watch its language.

Your headline for the editorial on charter expansion said opponents are “whining.” In support of balanced journalism, might not the opposition claim that the charter movement is bullying?

Why introduce such divisive rhetoric?

Phyllis Chase, Santa Monica

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