24 High-Performing Los Angeles Unified Schools Plan to Become Charter Schools

In “The School District is Dead, Long Live the Schools,” I wrote about the emerging trend of high-performing traditional schools converting to charters schools to get more flexibility and control of their financial resources. This growing trend is distinct from the traditional trajectory of charter schools that have developed to serve students in poor performing public schools. Los Angeles Unified is embracing this trend. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

Two dozen high-performing Los Angeles schools are seeking to become charter campuses in search of more money and increased flexibility.

The list reads like an honor roll of academic excellence. Every school has surpassed the state’s target score of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, which is based on standardized tests.

Although many of the schools considered the move in hopes of greater funding, campus officials said they also began to see the benefits of increased freedom over such things as curriculum, testing and schedules. “Finance is one key factor but not the only one,” said Jose Cole-Gutierrez, who directs the charter school division of the L.A. Unified School District.

The interesting twist is that Los Angeles Unified appears to be encouraging these schools to become charters. This again begs the questions are central offices and school districts going to become obsolete? Why not have all charter districts like New Orleans? As I said in the earlier Reason piece:

The bottom line is that charter schools give school leaders, teachers, and parents much more control over staffing and finances while also freeing them from the economic consequences of belonging to a district that has been in financial distress for decades. A school district may become financially bankrupt, but individual schools can live on through the charter school process. It raises the question: As a nation, should we continue to support large school districts at the expense of individual schools and students?