Union-Tribune Response: Focus on Reform, Not Lotteries

October 22, 2010

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The San Diego Union-Tribune has published several opinion pieces recently in regards to the Waiting for "Superman" documentary, which highlights the use of lotteries by charters where enrollment is oversubscribed. In none of these U-T pieces did the author correctly inform readers that charter schools must use lotteries mandated by both federal and state law when the number of applicants for their school exceeds the seats available.

Most lotteries do not include a public event; families are notified individually and confidentially of the outcome once a lottery is conducted. The result, however, may still be the same--incredible joy or sorrow felt by families at their child's educational options and future.

Charters across California have extensive waiting lists because families are looking for alternative high-quality public education options for their children, and are turning increasingly to charters.

The charter community would prefer to serve all the students who apply, including those on their waiting lists, rather than to enroll only those who are selected in the lottery. But inequities in funding and access to facilities often restrict how quickly a charter school can grow, and how many are able open to serve the students in a community.

Rather than focusing on emotional lotteries, we hope the public will concentrate on what needs to be done to ensure all students are able to access high-quality educational opportunities.

Lisa Berlanga
Regional Director, Greater San Diego
California Charter Schools Association

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