The Sun-Times was late for class with their recent story “U of C report: More students transfer out of charter HS than from CPS” on Nov. 14.

This groundbreaking report released by the University of Chicago showed that charter school students attend and graduate college at far higher rates than their Chicago Public Schools counterparts — yet the newspaper chose to focus on a less significant and negative point about transition rates in high school.

The real news — and good news — is that students who attend Chicago charter public high schools are more likely to enroll in “very selective” four-year colleges and persist at rates far higher than their peers in non-charter high schools. Additionally, between 2008 and 2010, the four-year college enrollment rate was 45.1 percent for students attending charter schools, compared to 26.2 percent for those who attended a non-charter school.

Finally, 7.2 percent of charter public high school students entered “very selective” colleges and universities, compared to 2.2 percent of their peers in district-run schools.

Even more importantly, the charter movement’s focus on college placement is spreading to other high schools in Chicago. As a city, we should be unified in helping more students qualify for selective colleges, and less worried about the type of high school they attend. That is what the charter movement is all about.

Andrew Broy
Illinois Network of Charter Schools

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Trickle-down economics dried up years ago

The Republicans are basing their current version of tax reform and the federal budget on trickle-down economics.  In 2008, Alan Greenspan,  former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a designer of the trickle-down theory, apologized in print for the concept, saying trickle-down economics does not work. One has to wonder why the GOP is so determined to foist this folly on the American working class.

Jay Massey, Glenview

Charlie Manson and life sentences

Cult killer Charlie Manson’s death yesterday at 83 would have purpose if it could re-focus efforts to reform the justice system for murderers, even the most heinous. Manson and three young female followers were all sentenced to death but later given life sentences due to a technicality invoked by the Supreme Court. None of the four should have been sentenced to death, and the two who are still alive — Leslie Van Houten and Susan Krenwinkel — should be released without further delay if arrangements can be secured for a safe and stable home life.

The death penalty, still legal in 31 states and the federal government, serves no societal purpose whatsoever; indeed it causes harm to the political culture by glorifying the very thing it is intended to punish and prevent: senseless death.

Life imprisonment for all but incorrigibles like Manson, is also an unnecessary, wasteful use of criminal justice resources. There is virtual agreement among criminal justice experts that the young Manson girls were incapable of criminal intent or action but for the Svengali-like and drug-induced control Manson exerted over them. They’re old women soaking up precious space and money that would be better spent on truly dangerous felons.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn