Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Your Cheating Heart

Most schools and educators spend a great deal of time impressing upon students that cheating is wrong and that it won't be tolerated. Some, however, have apparently decided that cheating is OK, and even assist their students in the process. This shocking turn of events is playing out in Southern California as one charter school operator with six charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District may very well lose those charters because of such activity.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to shut down six charter schools that were accused of widespread cheating on last year's standardized tests, citing the malfeasance and an insufficient response to it. ...

Crescendo founder/executive director John Allen allegedly ordered principals and teachers to prepare students for last year's exams with the actual test questions. Several teachers at the schools alerted the district about the cheating.

There are a couple of things operating here. The first is the whole nonsense of hiring private operators to come in to take over the job of public education at the taxpayers' expense. These operators promise to replace under-achieving schools with smaller classes and improved pedagogical techniques. The result is supposed to be a better education for students than what they would get at the public schools being replaced for less money than it would take if the public school system were doing its job. Given the accusations leveled at Crescendo, I'm not so certain the parents should be happy at the type of improved education their children are receiving.

The second issue if just as important and has to do with how success is being measured in education these days. The standardized tests which are a result of that horrid measure known as "No Child Left Behind" seems to be the sole yardstick. If our schools have to "teach to the test" to avoid being labeled as a "failed school," then there is no time to teach critical thinking, logic, theory. Only facts matter, with no room for evaluation of those facts or the context in which they are being asserted.

This isn't education, not by a long shot.



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