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Those knocking charter schools and other forms of school choice might want to do their homework before sounding off.

School Board Member Warren Jones was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that charter schools are not outperforming the other public schools.

If he was quoted accurately, Jones, a Democrat and former member of the City Council, should know better.

A recent report from the Florida Dept. of Education shows that charter schools are providing traditional government schools healthy competition.

There are more charter schools with an A grade than there are traditional schools, for example. The percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 88 of 96 comparisons.

Lori Hershey, chairwoman of the board, had a more enlightened attitude than Jones.

Her district has eight charter schools and she said she welcomes the competition.

Charter schools and vouchers allow parents to have choice who have not had it before. That’s the main point. The fact that choice also benefits both taxpayers and the public schools add to the appeal.

The school district’s own Web site says, “While receiving instruction in traditional subject areas, school choice students in magnet and special transfer option schools have an opportunity to explore and develop their unique interests and talents in such areas as math, science, the arts, language immersion, culinary arts, aviation, law/legal professions, technology, public service and many more.”

Special interests with a financial stake in the public schools fight all competition, usually with lies and false arguments because there really is no good reason students should not have equal opportunity for an education.

As the Washington Post said this week, “The politics of charter schools have always been fraught for Democrats because of the influence of teachers unions — which oppose charters for reasons having nothing to do with the welfare of children. We hope candidates keep in mind the polls that consistently show support for charters among black and Hispanic voters. It’s easy to oppose charters if you are well-off and live in a suburb with good schools.”

Charter schools are a hot topic because of a challenge given to the local superintendent – and reported in Eye on Jacksonville – by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran recently.

He told Diana Greene to be bolder and turn over failing students to a successful charter school organization that is beginning to get a foothold in Florida.

Greene said she was not opposed to charter schools and that the organization Corcoran named, IDEA Academy, could apply here and would be considered.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida.  He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union.  He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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