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The right course for charters

November 19, 2008

LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan brings up many good points. However, educational benchmarks are not the only factor the district should use to determine the viability of a charter school.

Charter schools are public entities and must follow the same guidelines as other public entities, including rules that prevent conflicts of interest. And if a charter school is under investigation by the district that is sponsoring it, procedures must be in place to allow the district to restrict that school's charter renewal until the investigation is completed or resolved.

It is crucial that the district enact a comprehensive policy that allows it to consider a variety of issues to determine whether the charter school is worthy of its continued support. Test scores and pleas from desperate parents should not be the only factors swaying board members to support an underperforming charter school.

Marlene Widawer

West Hills

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We agree with Galatzan's belief that charter schools should be synonymous with accountability for academic excellence. State law already requires a minimum threshold of academic performance for charters. Charters that don't meet it should be shut down.

The board should apply those same principles to all LAUSD schools, particularly those that chronically underperform. The vast majority of LAUSD charters outperform their district peers.

We commend the board for championing a comprehensive charter policy, and we will continue to collaborate with the LAUSD to find better, fairer ways of fostering excellence.

Peter Thorp

San Francisco

The writer is the interim chief executive of the California Charter Schools Assn.

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