Nipping a bad idea in the bud

In a few weeks, the Los Angeles school board will discuss enacting a moratorium on new charter schools, a measure that one board member claims is necessary to better assess the quality of a sector that now enrolls 15 percent of L.A. pupils. Not only would such a moratorium flout the law—school boards can’t simply set aside their legal obligation to consider charter applications—it would be an irresponsible way to manage charter-school quality. The board should be weeding out bad charters, both extant and prospective, but that’s only half of the job of a charter-school authorizer (and a difficult job at that). The board would be more effective—and more convincing when they say they care about charter students—if they made the effort to find new and promising providers to replace the failures. But, as with many moves like this, school-board members here seem intent on slowing the growth of charters by artificially capping enrollment (the wait list for L.A. charters is presently about 10,000). The board tried unsuccessfully to impose a moratorium on charters six years ago, just as the city became the first in the United States to contain 100 such schools, and it has become more antagonistic ever since. Not good for kids. Not good for education. But further evidence that the kids’ interest doesn’t necessarily prevail on the “management” side of the bargaining table, either. Then again, Los Angeles is one of those sad cases where that table seems to have just one side.

RELATED ARTICLE: “Parents decry proposed crackdown on LA charters,” by Christina Hoag, The Associated Press, September 11, 2012.

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