Letters to the Editor

School choice improves education system

Earlier this month, Florida released school grades. The results showed that education reform and school choice is working. At Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), our high-performing schools continued to outpace the state and our newer schools showed improvements.

Unlike traditional public schools, charters must demonstrate success in order to stay open. Legally, charters are held to a higher level of accountability. Publicly, they are held to a higher level of scrutiny.

The CSUSA network of schools exceeded the Florida average proficiency and rate of growth in reading, math, science and writing for 2013-2014. Even more suggestive, CSUSA’s net proficiency growth in reading, math, writing and science is almost ten times higher than the state of Florida.

CSUSA’s Miami-Dade County schools outperformed the district in reading, math, writing and science proficiency. Two of our Miami-Dade schools are in the top 50 elementary and middle schools statewide. While we are proud of these results, our work is never finished and we are never satisfied.

These types of gains are consistently reported in charters around the state and the nation. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University analyzed 27 states in their 2013 National Charter School Study and results showed charter students have advanced the learning gains of traditional public schools in reading and are on pace to do the same in math.

A study more specific to Florida — Charter High Schools’ Effects on Long-Term Attainment and Earnings — showed that students who attend Florida charter high schools are more likely to stay in college and earn more money than their counterparts in district schools. This study builds on earlier research that found students in charter high schools in Florida were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college.

All across the country, results are leading to more growth. There is no better case study than the city of New Orleans. By next school year, New Orleans will have 100 percent of their public school students enrolled in public charters. During this transition, test scores and graduation rates have climbed steadily.

Choice in education has only recently become a reality — yet there is no denying the movement’s success.

Our community needs to continue to embrace choice in the school system. Evidence, statistics and results continue to show that school choice is our best approach to improve the education system locally and nationally.

Jonathan Hage, founding CEO, Charter Schools USA, Fort Lauderdale

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