Thursday, April 7, 2011

LAUSD Threatens To Shut Down Cheating Charter Schools

Sacrificial Lamb (Image by Aaron and Alli)
This week, the LA Times reported that the Los Angeles Board of Education is planning to issue notices of violations against each of the six LA campuses of Crescendo Charter schools that had cheated on state standardized exams. However, the board and Superintendent Deasy left open the possibility that the schools could stay open if Crescendo “responds appropriately.”

LAUSD has been growing increasingly aggressive in their dealings with Crescendo. Initially, they issued slaps on the wrist to Crescendo boss John Allen and the guilty principals (see here). Then they voted to close the schools (see here), even in the face of threatened lawsuits by Crescendo’s board. However, it would be naïve to believe that LAUSD is acting out of a sense of doing right by its students. Rather, the threats are merely an attempt to do damage control and create the illusion that privatization is a self-correcting system that always rids itself of bad apples.

Sup. Deasy, a Bill Gates protégé and charter school cheerleader, said that Crescendo “schools have the next step in their hands.” Since they have already fired Allen, this can only mean that they have only a few more hoops to jump through before Deasy’s gang gives them their seal of approval. The LA Times says that board member Yolie Flores, another charter cheerleader and supporter of Public School Choice (which was set to privatized one-third of LAUSD’s schools), said she would vote against closing the schools down.

Parents and teachers have been worried that the schools will simply be shut, with teachers and students thrown to the wind, which is the last thing that would happen. Even if they did shut down Crescendo, the schools would most likely be transferred to another private charter operator or possibly even returned to LAUSD’s regular program. Ultimately, the issue is whether Crescendo, a corrupt and dishonest organization that is guilty of ordering its employees to violate the law, should be allowed to continue running these schools, like the proverbial fox guarding the chicken coop. Allowing Crescendo to stay in business essentially lets them off the hook and sends the message to students and the community that cheating is fine, so long as you don’t get caught or, if you do get caught, you apologize and knock off a few sacrificial lambs.


  1. AS you are a union member, as well as a leader, I thought you might like to know that the TEACHERS at this charter school are members of United Teachers Los Angeles. Again, they were the ones who blew the whistle on the cheating and are not the sacrificial lambs. You are right --more folks need to be disciplined, including the principals involved, the board members who thought it was "enough" to remove Allen and any teacher who did use the test viewing to design lessons or quizzes. But here is where we differ. I do not believe the charter needs to be pulled; a completely new board should be installed including broader teacher and parent representation.

  2. Dear Anon,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    FYI, I did mention in a previous post that the teachers were the whistle blowers and commended them for their courage. They certainly should not be punished for the wrongdoing of their bosses.

    You sound like you are content with the design or objectives of your charter. However, revoking Crescendo's charter does not necessarily preclude that design or its objectives and is not a punishment of the teachers. As UTLA members they will be able to teach in LAUSD or even at the same school site, just under different management. Whatever made Crescendo desirable to teachers could be replicated under new management.

    Rather than a new board with just more teacher and parent representation, why not eliminate Crescendo entirely and replace them completely with parents and teachers?