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Obama's salute to a New Orleans charter school

The president's visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. school helps validate America's nearly 20-year trend of charter schools.

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President Obama's visit to a charter school in post-Katrina New Orleans today is just one more indication that these nontraditional schools are finally getting the validation they deserve. This, after nearly 20 years of scrutiny as publicly funded but privately run schools.

The Obama administration is heavily promoting more of these hybrid schools. As part of a $4.35 billion education-reform initiative, the president plans to reward states that make it easier to start charter schools that often serve inner-city children. Eleven states still don't allow charters.

The school visited by the president, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology, educates mainly poor African-American children. It stands out as a success story, along with other New Orleans charters, when compared with the city's traditional public schools, which are still largely classified as failing.

States such as Tennessee, Illinois, and Louisiana have responded to the administration's incentive by removing limits on the number of charter schools. Other states are moving in the same direction. That's good news for successful charter operators, such as the Kipp Academies, which want to expand. Nationwide, about 1.5 million kids – many of them poor and minority students – attend about 4,600 charter schools.

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