Margaret Raymond’s LA Times piece suggested that LA could learn from NY.  That’s true in some areas of school reform, but I think there may be problems with some of her assertions and her timing.

1. She references her study which had obvious flaws regarding matching (i.e., first years schools against mature schools) and the conclusions it drew (e.g., kids do better the longer they are in charters).

2. Her observations about the rich/supportive environment in NY compared to CA seem thin (it’s not all that rosy in NY, and it’s not that bad in CA)

3. I doubt that her CA figures for charters reflects LA performance; LA has a bunch of great operators that probably outperform CA averages for charters

4. She didn’t talk about the impact of facilities, but many NY charters get facilities and about $13k which CA don’t and squeak by on $7k.

Let’s get specific about differences; when folks talk about NY charters they are primarily referring to Achievement First and Harlem Success–fantastic elementary operators.  There are very few charter high schools in NY because they were up against the cap for so long.  LA is blessed with great high school operators like Green Dot, Alliance, Bright Star (and Aspire which has elementary schools and soon will have high schools)–most of which benefited from a relationship with New Schools Venture Fund.

Given all that, I just don’t think the op-ed worked and believe charter supports like Parent Revolution should stay peddle-to-the-metal in LA to improve options for kids.  Raymond’s timing during the week of votes on public school choice in LA seems more than a coincidence–it is misleading and unfortunate.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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