With regard to some of the letters concerning the charter school initiative, I offer these observations.
One criticism leveled against charter schools is that alternatives to conventional schools are unnecessary and would drain funds from conventional schools. However, we already have what are called Alternative Learning Experiences, public school programs that cater to home-schoolers who attend classes on a part-time, a la carte basis. In one, parents tap public finds for approved curricula and activities coupled with weekly contact with a certified teacher assessing student progress. Another criticism is that charters might only accept students via a lottery system. In fact, the new iTech Preparatory Middle and High magnet schools, which just opened in Vancouver, drew its student base from lottery picks. As another alternative, our state also provides online public schools.
All these types of schools were created to serve diverse student needs, because it is finally being recognized that not all children learn optimally in any singular environment or via any singular format. Voting down charter schools will not prevent educational innovations funded by public dollars, nor does restricting such alternatives best serve our kids, especially when the conventional model systemically fails so many.
Erin Lund Johnson