The Great Charter School Debate: Final Round

In the final installment of the Great Charter School debate the Los Angeles Times asks:

Are charters a drain on traditional public schools?
Is it really a bad thing that charters put pressure on low-performing public schools? Lisa Snell and Ralph E. Shaffer finish their debate.

Here’s a snippet of my answer:

Charter schools should not be viewed as a fiscal drain on school districts. Instead, they should be viewed as high-quality public schools that offer parents more options and raise school districts’ overall quality. Districts should embrace higher-performing charter schools and work to replicate and imitate these schools, which are adding value to their students’ education.

Look at Los Angeles and Oakland, where charter schools have had a positive effect on public education. In Los Angeles, more than 70% of charter schools outperform their nearby district schools. Ten of Los Angeles’ 12 recently recognized California Distinguished Schools are charter schools. Statewide, 12 of the 15 highest-performing public schools serving low-income students are charter schools. Similarly, in Oakland, the highest-performing schools are charters that have raised achievement for disadvantaged students.