Two separate investigations into the cheating scandal blamed Crescendo… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)
Re "How charter schools' cheating scandal began," Aug. 18
As a former high school teacher, I am outraged at the cheating apparently engineered by Crescendo charter schools founder John Allen. His practice of giving the real test to the teachers and principals ahead of time gives new meaning to "teaching to the test."
Through this sordid story, all the persons in authority — the principals who passed out the tests, then-L.A. Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte — let Allen off the hook with their personal rationalizations. The heroes in the story are the teachers who stood up to authority despite the chance that they would lose their jobs: Lisa Sims, Sandra Kim and Patricia Hardison.
These young brave teachers showed that they have a stronger sense of ethics than the powers that be in L.A. Unified.
Allen did not want his schools to be "better, better, better, best." He wanted his schools to cheat to appear to be best. He also appears to be a bully; teachers who are on their feet all day should not have to wear high heels to appease some administrator. They need to be treated as professionals.
Allen is an embarrassment to the teaching profession.
Charter school teachers do not have the same protections that traditional public school teachers do.
When a teacher faces a work-related crisis, one of the best resources is his or her union. Being expected to wear uncomfortable shoes, working in constant fear of being fired on the spot and questioning whether to follow an administrator's request to cheat are all situations that require union protection for teachers.
Allen received a $245,000 settlement and still has a job, LaMotte went unscathed and everyone else has to receive ethics training. And United Teachers Los Angeles is powerful?
This revelation of cheating should not be surprising. When single-minded testing schemes are implemented, there will always be people who game the system.
The testing in California needs to be more diversified. It should include writing samples and a portfolio of student work from the classroom. After all, real education should be the issue here, not statistical analysis.
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