Too many local districts are making the wrong decisions in their war against charters.

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If you know anything about Boston you've heard of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. That's where Brooke Charter Schools operates three K-8 schools. Despite that, Brooke students turn in startling results.

Just a quick sample: At its Mattapan school, which is two-thirds African-American, one-third Latino and largely poor, sixth-graders score at the highest proficiency rates in math in the entire state.

Ideally, Brooke founder Jon Clark would like to add another middle school and a high school for all his high-performing middle schoolers to attend. The high schools his students are forced to attend now are, to put it politely, of "mixed" quality. But he can't because Massachusetts sets a cap on charter schools.

Teensy change

Before the end of July, the state Senate will consider lifting that cap just a tiny bit — but enough to give Clark's team a chance to spread its magic. New Brooke schools would be easy to fill: Several thousand Boston parents hover anxiously on its wait lists.

But what sounds like a slam dunk isn't. In fact, the odds of lifting the cap are no better than 50-50. Too many superintendents and union leaders prefer the system as it is, a system that works better for adults than students.

And that's the sad part of the story. Contrary to conventional wisdom, for many students we actually know how to eliminate racial learning gaps. Brooke does it year after year.

In Boston, and other cities around the country, the brutal truth is that we are choosing not to eliminate racial learning gaps for those students.

In New York City, Chancellor Carmen Farina chose not to include charters in her initial school-to-school mentoring program. Given the success rate of charters there such as Icahn Charter School 2 in the Bronx or South Bronx Classical Charter School, that decision can only be explained by school politics.

In Los Angeles, the school board chose to wage war on some of its highest performing charter schools.

In San Jose, superintendents are getting more sophisticated at fighting off charter schools, even though their districts have done a poor job educating low-income Latino students.

In San Antonio, school districts alarmed by the ramping up of high-performing charters banded together to run a pricey "We Go Public" campaign (despite knowing that charter schools are public) to persuade parents to keep their children in schools that generally do a miserable job educating minority kids.

All those districts are making a choice to put adults over kids. It's not that charters are always better. Plenty of terrible charter schools should be closed immediately. And it's not that all district schools do a terrible job educating poor, minority kids.

Sharing agenda

But something new and special is going on with charters, something I discovered while visiting the top charters around the country. Take Clark as an example. He got started with Teach for America in New Orleans. Then he worked for a great charter school in Boston. When he decided to launch Brooke, he drew lessons from nearby Roxbury Prep, one of the earliest top charters. When he wanted to learn how to run his back office operations, he visited Chicago's Noble charter schools. When he wanted to find the best writing program, he went to Achievement First charters. They all shared.

With that sharing, many top charters have come pretty close to cracking the achievement gap code. Proof? Let's flesh out those sixth-grade math scores cited above: Mattapan students were 95% proficient, with 63% scoring advanced. Now compare that with these tony Massachusetts addresses: Wellesley (85/44), Weston (84/46) and Wayland (85/56).

It's real, and it's a choice. You can choose adults, or you can choose kids.

If politicians, superintendents and unions switched their allegiances from adults to students, the results could be dramatic. When Clark looks at the numbers, he calculates that if the Massachusetts Senate decided to double the cap, rather than raise it just a bit, there are enough great charters already operating there to level the math achievement gap between students in Boston and the rest of the state.

Leveling the achievement gap: It's not an impossibility. It's a choice.

Richard Whitmire, is author of On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope, is a former editorial writer for USA TODAY.

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