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As educators with more than 70 years of experience with Minnesota public schools, we think thousands of families have made wise decisions to select charter public schools and Star Tribune readers deserve a much more nuanced, balanced account than provided by the recent attacks ("100,000 Twin Cities lives ruined by segregation," Opinion Exchange, June 4) and "Minnesota is an education leader in racial inequality," Opinion Exchange, June 16).

It's not just us who think so:

• The Minnesota Historical Society judged chartering as one of Minnesota's most important developments in our first 150 years.

• A statewide Minnesota study found that 70% of Minnesota charters are providing critical state-law-required information about PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) to students and families, compared with just 36% of traditional districts. Extensive research shows that PSEO has a strong, positive impact on closing graduation gaps.

• Minnesota's Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of research that students at two Minnesota charters conducted with huge positive results: $30 million to high school students who had been laid off during COVID-19.

• Harvard's Kennedy School of Government gave Minnesota's charter law an award as "an outstanding innovation."

• After the National Governors Association recognized the research skills of one of this column's authors, he found that Minnesota charters have produced "billions of dollars in benefits" to individuals and Minnesota — by helping thousands of youngsters graduate after frustration and failure in traditional schools.

• A Minneapolis charter public school student produced the video seen worldwide documenting George Floyd's murder. It's not surprising that she did this. Her school's vision, daily reinforced, stresses "working compassionately to promote social justice and equity."

• Junior Achievement recognized a Minnesota charter as having the nation's finest school business — because of students' expertise in researching and producing YouTube videos, winning contracts with organizations, including State Farm insurance, Verizon Wireless and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. This despite the fact that more than 40% of the students served experience homelessness during a school year.

The June 4 commentary author condemned several charters in part because some, while serving virtually all low-income, BIPOC students, have a smaller percentage of graduates graduating from prestigious four-year colleges than graduates of, for example, district high schools in Edina and Wayzata.

Really? What does this say about the professor's attitude toward vocational training at Minnesota two-year colleges, or active choices by Black, brown, white, American Indian and Asian American families?

Surveys of graduates and parents are revealing.

Melissa, parent of a youngster at Coon Rapids' Northwest Passage High School, described her 10th-grader after a year at NWPHS: "He changed from a sullen, angry kid who rarely smiled to a youngster who loves school and has many friends."

Jenny, a parent at Richfield's Partnership Academy, explained that her youngster "came from a long stay at a day treatment program, two years behind." After a year at PA, "he learned he was SMART and CAPABLE" (her emphasis). Also, "the staff honored my voice and perspective."

These parents help explain why suburban, rural and urban charter enrollment grew from 10,162 in 2021-22 to 67,227 in 2022-23. They also help explain why thousands of BIPOC families actively select charters. We have high expectations for all youngsters. Edina and Wayzata are great schools for many. But neither district nor charter public schools serve all youngsters well.

No school is perfect for every youngster. Increasing access to excellent early childhood education and medical care, reducing youth and family homelessness, expanding students' opportunities to study, develop and then implement strategies to reduce or eliminate local problems, adding more BIPOC educators and helping more youngsters gain technical skills (at the two-year colleges a previous commentary disrespected) will help. Sweeping, questionable generalizations won't help.

Busing to suburbs, as the previous commentary author suggests, has a mixed record.

Outside evaluators hired by the Minnesota Department of Education compared test score increases of students who stayed in Minneapolis with those who enrolled in suburban schools. Sometimes transfer students made more progress, sometimes less and sometimes the same. More than 70% of transfers left suburban schools within three years. A 2022 MIT study found "distance and travel boost integration but have little or no effect on test scores and college attendance."

There's no single step toward more student success. But chartering and other research-based strategies have produced and will produce significant progress for thousands of Minnesotans.

Khalique Rogers ( and Joe Nathan ( are co-directors of the Center for School Change and advocates of effective public education.