Wednesday, March 2, 2011

LAUSD Changes Course: Revoke Crescendo's Charter!

Yesterday I wrote that the Los Angeles Board of Education was considering allowing Crescendo Charters to continue running its six schools in LAUSD, despite the fact that their boss had directed teachers and principals to help students cheat on state standardized exams. Perhaps due to public outrage, or possibly due to budget desperation, the Board voted yesterday to shut down the schools. (By closing the charter schools, LAUSD can take the campuses back and start running them as part of LAUSD, receiving state funding for each of their students that had gone directly to the Crescendo company.)

The original decision to keep the schools open was based on their high test scores and the sense that they had taken adequate steps to reform their naughty ways. However, the LA School Board ultimately recognized that those test scores were useless as indicators of school progress, considering that students had been given the tests in advance to study before taking the exams for real. Why it took the school board so long to recognize this obvious bias is an indication of its own incompetence and lack of integrity. Perhaps they, too, should have their credentials revoked and be forced to vacate the premises.

Revocation of charters is a relatively rare occurrence, especially for LAUSD, one of the most charter-friendly districts in the country. The board voted 6 to 1 in favor of the revocation, with only Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte dissenting. She continued to cling to the delusion that the improved test scores were an indication of academic success.

In another pathetic move by United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), outgoing union president A.J. Duffy called for the schools to stay open “for the kids” (and the teachers, who recently joined UTLA). Duffy correctly acknowledged the risks Crescendo teachers took to blow the whistle on their bosses. However, allowing the schools to remain in the hands of Crescendo is neither a service to students nor their teachers. If converted back to district-run schools, the teachers should stay on as members of the union, with all the contractual rights and protections of their colleagues in LAUSD.

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