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Charter schools the resegregation of public education

To the editor: Thanks to Stanford education historian Diane Ravitch for the unobstructed view of what Los Angeles Unified School District should be looking for in its next superintendent. ("The survival of public education is at risk. Here's what LAUSD needs to do," op-ed, July 23)

Ravitch believes the new superintendent should place a greater emphasis on public schools and should be suspicious of the claims for charter schools, which, according to her, “operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.” Ravitch maintains that countries who do the best job of educating its citizens — she names several — do it with strong and effective public schools, “not charter schools or private school vouchers.”

When we the citizens hear the claims and counter-claims of those supporting alternate school systems like charter schools, we should at least be aware of the possibilities that in some cases we are sadly watching resegregation at work, and charter schools are not always as inclusive as they might seem.

Ralph Mitchell, Monterey Park

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To the editor: Ravitch's view on what the next superintendent should bring to L.A. Unified is too rooted in the past to be meaningful. The standardized testing to which she objects was designed to determine whether students were acquiring the basic skills for even modest jobs. The tests have demonstrated that the type of leadership for which she yearns have failed to deliver at this most basic level.

The leadership we need will not come from looking at the last 50 years, as Ravitch has done, but by trying to look forward 50 years. If that vision leads us to charter schools and higher standards, then we need to accept that and stop trying to live in the past.

In L.A. Unified, about 20% of the students are attending charters, and most operate on a lottery system because there are so many parents opting out of the traditional and into charters. Our leaders on the district's Board of Education and in administration need to be open to these changes and embrace them.

Kevin Minihan, Los Angeles

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