Choice, not segregation

A charter school principal takes issue with a CN&R report

Mr. Weber is principal/superintendent of Chico Country Day School, a charter school in Chico.

Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first then you can distort them as you please.” Unfortunately, Leslie Layton did not take Twain’s advice in her Aug. 13 article on charter schools [“The new segregation”]. To set the record straight:

1. Charter schools are expected to reflect the diversity of a community, not be comparable to the most diverse school in a district. The majority of district schools in Chico don’t compare to Chapman in terms of diversity. Country Day has a higher African-American population than the district; and our Hispanic and low-socioeconomic populations are very similar to four of the nine traditional elementary schools in Chico.

2. CCDS does not “require” parent participation—we encourage, but no families are excluded from our school if they cannot contribute hours.

3. CCDS accepts all students who apply, including special-education and severely disabled students.

4. Two of the district’s schools of choice (Hooker Oak and Sierra View’s Academics Plus), which draw students from throughout Chico and have wait lists/lotteries, have a smaller percentage of ethnic, low-socio-economic and special-education students than Chico Country Day. Why weren’t those schools compared to Chapman in Layton’s article?

5. The statement that charter schools are responsible for segregation is laughable. If all Chico charter schools disappeared tomorrow, Chico would have four predominantly white schools in north Chico, and three heavily minority schools in south Chico. Housing patterns, real-estate prices and district policies (magnet schools and Form 10s) are responsible for any segregation in Chico, not charter schools.

6. Charter schools do not “side step” union contracts. Many charter schools are unionized, and there is nothing in charter-school law that speaks to the union issue.

7. To compare parental choice and the charter-school movement to the forced, racist segregation addressed in Brown v. Board of Education is ludicrous and a trivialization of a seminal event in the history of the civil-rights movement.

8. Does the News & Review really believe that all children ought to be forced into schools of a district’s choosing? Does it believe that parents ought not to have the fundamental right to control their child’s education? The rapid growth in charter schools show that parents, regardless of socioeconomic level, are demanding school options that fit the needs of their children, not a one-size-fits-all education.