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Anniston Star: Chartering state’s course: Advocates of charter schools must study issue’s many variables

With charter schools high on the state Legislature’s agenda, it would do well for readers of The Star to keep last Sunday’s edition handy for reference in the coming weeks.

If the “devil is in the details,” then as reporter Tim Lockette pointed out, no one seems to know, or is willing to say, what Alabama’s charter-school legislation will look like when it is introduced.

However, in the world where charter schools already exist, there are a wide variety of approaches and an equally wide variety of results.

In the past, this page has supported the idea of charter schools but has cautioned supporters and critics to go slow and carefully study the charter-school successes and failures of other states.

One of the states that should be studied is Pennsylvania. In particular, Gov. Robert Bentley, who discussed charter schools Tuesday night in his State of the State address, and charter advocates should study the Chester (Pa.) Upland School District, which The New York Times recently examined.

About half of Chester’s students go to public schools. About half go to the Chester Community Charter School, which is nonprofit but is operated by a for-profit company. As with other charter schools, the Chester institution gets public funds to operate, much of them coming from public schools themselves.

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