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Letter: Charter schools are a valuable option

A first grade class is pictured at Evergreen

A first grade class is pictured at Evergreen Charter School in Hempstead on Friday, Oct 17, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

A few important points come to mind when reading about critics' opposition to charter schools on Long Island ["Closer look at LI's charter schools," News, Oct. 20].

Regarding the tax impact on local districts, let's remember that education dollars do not belong to districts. Districts provide public education, but they are no longer the only public schools in town. On the contrary, charter schools are public schools, delivering public education.

Until the New York State Charter Schools Act was passed in 1998, local districts operated all alone, and whether they continually failed or succeeded made no difference. The charter law changed that by creating a space for schools granted certain amounts of freedom and flexibility in exchange for strict accountability.

It means charters can do things such as extend the day and year to better serve children, but they risk closure if achievement is persistently low. That isn't just lip service; more than 20 schools have been shuttered in New York.

The challenge of adults finding something to agree on is not a reason to deny families another option. What are they afraid of? Education is supposed to be about the children, not the adults. Students shouldn't have to wait. A quality charter school can provide a better education now, not years from now, and many parents -- and kids -- would be grateful.

Andrea Rogers, Albany

Editor's note: The writer is the director of policy for the Northeast Charter Schools Network, a regional membership and advocacy organization.