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Lan Katz: Leader of charter school lays out facts

To the editor:

While I appreciate the Gazette hosting a discussion about charter schools on its Opinion page, inaccurate statements in two anti-charter guest columns are disappointing. People have varying opinions about the role of charter schools in improving public education, but many basic facts are clear.

The facts are:

• Most charter schools in western Massachusetts are in Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke and Adams. They largely serve low-income students.

• Charter schools are public schools.

• All Massachusetts charter schools are nonprofit. Two schools hire a profit-making education management company to manage the school.

• Massachusetts charter public schools outperform the district public schools academically based on MCAS results.

• The funding formula provides charter public schools with an amount of money to educate each child comparable to the amount spent for each child by the district public school.

• The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education subjects charter public schools to a more stringent system of accountability than it subjects district public schools to.

• Charter schools arose out of decades of failure by district schools to educate all children successfully, particularly low-income children. Charter schools did not create the shortcomings of district schools but are a response to that problem.

Let’s have a forthright discussion about improving public education.

Lan Katz

Florence

Lan Katz is executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield.

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