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Charter schools have place in city's future [Letter]

As a parent of Baltimore City Public School students, I take great offense to the commentary, "City principals call for funding forums" (May 22), written by five BCPS principals. I find it offensive that, while they do highlight the numerous and substantial costs charters must pay from their budgets that traditional schools do not, they ignore a more important element which is that parents and students deserve choice — choice in curriculum, school facilities and program models.

My older daughter graduated from Baltimore City College in the International Baccalaureate program. I have and will continue to fight for the International Baccalaureate program to be funded because it offers a choice for students. I also watched her get physically ill during MSAs and exams starting in 3rd grade due to the emphasis placed on test scores. I am part of a growing number of parents who do not believe in test-driven curriculum or that testing is a measure of a student's learning. I congratulate the principals and parents who value testing as a measure and have done so successfully. However I do not share this belief.

The writers dismiss that many, perhaps the majority of charter schools, in Baltimore began organically with parents and educators who needed other choices for their children and students. While my family did not consider moving from Baltimore as an option to find a school that did not "teach to the test," many families do move due to school options. Charters seem to have become a mechanism for not only offering choices but also a method to keep families in the public school system.

To accuse charter parents and students of succeeding at the expense of students in traditional schools is a red herring as is the funding argument. As a parent, I've experienced both traditional and charter schools for my public school children. The charter school has much more transparency and parent input in the financial management and oversight of the school. The charter also raises significant amount of funding to meet program needs. The writers are transformational principals so why are they spending energy attacking Baltimore public school families in charter schools and not sharing and teaching their successes to other schools? Every parent in the city wants all children to be successful regardless of which school they attend.

If a forum is needed to discuss funding, so be it. But like testing may not be measure of student success, funded versus non-funded line items in a budget is not either — as proven by the transformation principals who are successful with traditional school budgets.

Kim Lane, Baltimore

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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