In “Another Voice: Testing data from Buffalo charter schools should be a serious concern” (Buffalo News, December 21, 2022), Buffalo City School Board member Larry Scott cites recent assessment scores from the state as a reason to debate the effectiveness and “proliferation” of public charter schools throughout the Buffalo area and does not recognize parental choice.
Scott is right to point out that the pandemic has had a profound impact on student learning. However, he fails to mention that this result is not unique to Buffalo public charter schools: test scores have declined for students in Erie County. And selecting a single year of data, Scott fails to note that despite all the funding inequities that exist between public charter schools and public district schools, state test scores of charter students in ELA and math have exceeded the district average for years. . The story these most recent test results tell me about our city’s public charter schools is the immense value students derive from an education at a public charter school. When this high-quality education is disrupted, as has happened during the pandemic, it impacts children’s learning. As such, this data suggests that Scott is coming to a completely different conclusion: He should instead be urging state leaders to increase their support for our city’s public charter schools.
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But rather than go down and stoke the weary counterproductive district fire charter, let’s consider what’s really important here – the right of parents to choose high-quality schools for their children. Parents choose the schools that best suit their children and families. Beyond academics, charter schools offer unique opportunities for specialized learning. They provide excellent opportunities for social and emotional growth and activities to bring out the best in students. Charter schools provide many opportunities for families to become actively involved in the school community. When we expand high-quality school options, students benefit, families benefit, our entire community benefits.
BPS and school board members should not fight against teaching in public charter schools. Instead, we should all work together to improve education at all levels for all students. District schools, public charter schools, community organizations, businesses and local colleges should join forces with families. We need to present a united front on how we are going to get out of the pandemic. We all have the same goal: to help our students succeed and reach their full potential.
As we usher in 2023, let’s work together to provide the best possible education for our children. Let’s choose to do the work together.
Janique Curry is Community Engagement Manager, Buffalo, New York Charter Schools Association