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Letter: Don't blame charters in Hempstead

Hempstead High School launched a new program for

Hempstead High School launched a new program for incoming freshmen designed to curb its dropout rate. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Gerard Antoine, the Hempstead school district's superintendent for business and operations, said that increased enrollment in two charter schools -- Academy Charter School and Evergreen -- has contributed to his district's poor financial standing ["Hempstead to seek state's aid," News, Aug. 4].

This doesn't add up, given the enormity of Hempstead's fiscal problems. Instead of pointing fingers at the charter schools, the district should ask why so many families choose this other public school option.

The district's schools have been plagued by poor performance for years. The charters are not new schools, having opened in 2000. Their growth plans and budgets are public information. Charter school students also receive less funding than district students -- on average, 75 cents on the dollar compared with other public school students.

Evergreen and Academy significantly outperformed the district schools on the most recent English Language Arts and math exams. These are the same schools that a Newsday editorial in January said challenge the "pitiful status quo" in the district.

We also know this: A half-dozen charter schools in New York have been closed for fiscal mismanagement. That is what it means to get autonomy for real accountability. If school districts were similarly held to a higher performance standard, the children of Hempstead would all be better off.

Claudia Granados, Albany

Editor's note: The writer is the New York State director of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, an advocacy organization.


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