August 13, 2010 "The new segregation" by Leslie Layton (August 12, 2010) is a disappointingly one-sided look at Chico's charter schools. Layton's article, and the UCLA Civil Rights Project report referenced in it, were based on assumptions and incomplete data, and solely focus their findings on demographics and "exposure" to diversity, rather than the academic performance of charter school students. This approach is overly simplistic and reflects the same thinking that has proven to be especially unsuccessful for the majority of children of color for decades.
California charter schools are very diverse, have open-enrollment, and offer innovative programs that focus on providing high-quality education for all students--regardless of race, color, ethnicity, language, or ability. Our approach is paying off, as African-American and Latino student achievement is better than in traditional public schools on any comparison, be it by state, by district, and particularly by neighborhood.
Charter school growth over the past decade has been propelled by educators and parents who are themselves opening their own charters in both urban and rural areas because they believe charters will provide their children with better educational outcomes. The charter movement shares the goals of diverse schools and communities as a social good and we are working to ensure that our schools have greater diversity. But our first concern is on educational excellence wherever children in need may reside.
Families interested getting both sides of the story should visit www.calcharters.org to learn more about charter schools.
Regional Director, Northeastern California
California Charter Schools Association