Thursday, August 27, 2009

LAUSD Concedes to School Choice

Ed at Hot Air notes that the L.A. Unified School District " finally got desperate enough to try something new to rescue its schools: private-sector competition."

In a startling acknowledgment that the Los Angeles school system cannot improve enough schools on its own, the city Board of Education approved a plan Tuesday that could turn over 250 campuses — including 50 new multimillion-dollar facilities — to charter groups and other outside operators.
The action signals a historic turning point for the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has struggled for decades to boost student achievement. District officials and others have said their ability to achieve more than incremental progress is hindered by the powerful teachers union, whose contract makes it nearly impossible to fire ineffective tenured teachers. Union leaders blame a district bureaucracy that they say fails to include teachers in “top-down reforms.”

“The premise of the resolution is first and foremost to create choice and competition,” said board member Yolie Flores Aguilar, who brought the resolution, “and to really force and pressure the district to put forth a better educational plan.”
Charter schools are not as good as vouchers, but this is a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, the immediate effect will be that the unions and their fellow-travellers will do all they can to make sure it fails. Then, every time someone tries to promote school choice, they will point to the "failure" in L.A.

I commend the School Board for attempting to do the right thing. But I question whether they or Mayor Villaraigosa have the nerve to stay the course. If not, it will be worse than doing nothing.