Serious About Accountability
Mar 4, 1:00 AM
Imagine what would happen if the following occurred at one of Los Angeles Unified's traditional schools: A district official orders principals to give students the actual test questions to practice for the standardized state test. It would cause a scandal, no doubt. The district official would be reprimanded, maybe even quietly removed from the job (though that seems unlikely). School board members would utter sharp rebukes to principals who followed the orders, maybe suspend them for a week or two. Everyone involved would profess contrition, hang their heads and apologize repeatedly - and then, after a short while, go back to work. Now imagine what might happen if that same scenario unfolded at a charter school. Wait, you don't have to imagine that because it did happen. And thanks to action by the LAUSD Board of Education Tuesday, we know that cheating on standardized tests will get a charter school shut down faster than you can say "SAT." But this swift action illustrates what makes the charter school movement so revolutionary: If the school or the people running it fail, it can be shut down immediately and students spared any long-term effects to their education. By comparison, the school board did not shut down any of the many poor-performing traditional LAUSD schools that day - or any other day. Unlike charter schools, LAUSD schools can continue failing generations and generations of students with impunity.