Ten years ago, California’s lowest-performing schools agreed to reforms in exchange for more state funding, recalls Margaret Fortune, an educator and state university trustee, in the Sacramento Bee.
Despite big payouts to under-performing schools, the ones that continually failed to improve outcomes for schoolchildren (and there are hundreds of them) never faced any serious consequences.
. . . The state education bureaucracy charged with implementing (Gov. Gray) Davis’ school accountability plan and the education establishment lobbyists, representing school boards, teachers unions and school administrators, made a tacit agreement to discard the school reform strategies that might upset the apple cart. Instead, no matter how broken a school was, the state picked the least intrusive option available under the law. They sent in consultants. They sent consultants to broken schools because, politically, ideas like high- quality charter schools and parent empowerment provisions to allow half the parents in a failing school to petition for its overhaul would generate “more heat than light.”
Fortune hopes the new wave of school reform will produce better results. There are schools with a “relentless focus on student achievement” that are doing a good job of educating low-income, minority students. The way to get more of these schools is to “grant parents the right to choose a good school when their neighborhood school is broken,” she writes.
Gahan Wilson cartoon via This Week in Education: