While The Cat’s Away…

For all those celebrating the news of Toby Young’s ‘free’ school funding green light, recent events in one Los Angeles’s charter school group should perhaps make us more than a little concerned about the future integrity of opt-out schools.

The LA Times report that “The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin the process of revoking the charter of six schools operated by the Crescendo organization.

It appears that “Crescendo founder and executive director John Allen had, according to school district documents and officials, ordered principals and teachers to cheat by breaking the seal on the state tests and using the actual questions to prepare students for the test.”

Now of course simply because one bad apple acts this way doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole orchard is in need of replanting but it does draw attention to the pressure that business people are under to turn a profit when test-scores are tied to funding, and when there is such ideological and political investment in a glory project like Gove’s.

It is true that some UK schools, increasingly being modelled on the American experience, have been accused of corruption when it comes to enrolment and school places, plagiarised coursework, and the ejection of underperforming pupils before they lower school league table placings.

But by putting the school management reins in the hands of business people and coupling this with high-stakes testing, the pressure to cut a few more corners, or in the case of the LA school group to simply ignore the corners altogether, will surely only increase.

And this is especially worrying when, as Young admits on his blog, “From now on, the Secretary of State’s reputation will be tied to the performance of (our) school.”

Money corrupts. We know that politicians can’t resist. What about the new educationeers?

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