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Ward 7 education activist Alicia Rucker, a nurse whose five school-age children attend public schools, told me this weekend that “affluence,” “highly effective principals who get the teaching-and-learning job done” and a keen sense of priorities are common but key components of a “great school.”

“There are up to three teachers in a classroom at [some] charter schools, a best practice that reduces teacher-student ratio and gives students more face time with their instructors,” she said. “When I talk to an art teacher in Ward 3 with a budget of $6,000, I have to ask how many art teachers with similar budgets are in Ward 7.”

IFF already has crunched numbers for such metropolises as Chicago, Denver and St. Louis, as well as Milwaukee, ground zero in the school-choice movement. Those cities’ schools are typically characterized as either “performing” or “not performing.”

Meanwhile, PERC will officially begin pondering the affordability question Thursday.

If your head tilts to the right, remember that those to the left always color outside the lines. How else to explain the unique performance of Ward 3 schools, eh?

Deborah Simmons can be reached at