Anyone familiar with the University of California is probably quite aware that the system has been plagued by examples of dishonesty, corruption and anti-white/anti-American bias in recent years. Fairness, responsibility and integrity have taken a backseat to personal gain, political correctness and special privilege by the UC administration through various scandals and policies.
Top administrators have been basically stealing tax-payer money and lining their own pockets. Professors are allowed to insult patriots by burning American flags in classrooms and are protected by administrators under the guise of "academic freedom," but student newspapers printing satires and criticisms of Islamic jihadism are labeled "hate speech" and "bias incidents." Caucasians are currently under-represented in the student population in comparison to California population proportions, so the admissions and outreach officers stopped using "under-representation" as a justification for racial bias and special privilege based on ethnicity and began using the phrase "traditionally under-represented" (ie, historically rather than currently) so that they could continue their programs aimed at non-whites and completely ignore both the new statistics and the fact that the system was anything BUT biased against "minorities." Admissions policies have shifted away from quantifiable and verifiable criteria like SAT scores and High School GPA and moved into the realm of the "holistic," where students are awarded points for "community service" and "personal disadvantage," all of which goes utterly unchecked, so that application fraud cannot be caught and combated. California voters passed a law ending racial bias in the state admissions policies, yet UC administrators circumvent this by aiming special outreach programs at targeted ethnic groups, completely ignoring the letter of the law.
In light of all the unethical behavior and hypocrisy, is it any surprise that a charter school on the University of California, San Diego campus, the Preuss School, has been accused of handing out false grades to students in order to falsely inflate their own statistics and reputation? It should not be. When voters in California passed Proposition 209, the University of California, frustrated and angered that the California citizens who pay for the campus's existence and their salaries, dared to choose fairness and colorblindness over race-based affirmative action programs and special privileges for minorities, altered their admissions policies, but at the same time sank more energy into reaching pre-college minorities. This was at first done with "outreach" programs targeting specific races, completely ignoring the fact that voters called for the UC and the state to "not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race." But somehow the preferential treatment in outreach policies was OK to college administrators, because the will of the voter was suspect. Then, an institution charged with providing HIGHER EDUCATION decided to get into the business of 6th-12th grade education, working with the San Diego Unified School District to establish a charter school focusing on low-income children in the hopes that this would lead to greater "diversity" at the college level.
On the surface, Preuss seemed a model of educational excellence, proving that when you do away with many of the rules, statues and regulations forced upon other forms of public schools by a liberal and intrusive government, you can more successfully provide a top-notch education. In a nutshell, rather than the socialistic idea that you provide the same education to all students, you provide a high-end education only to those willing and capable of doing the work. As noted in the linked article, though, "a 2005 study by UCSD showed that Preuss students earned state test scores and grade-point averages that were no higher than their peers who applied to the charter school but weren't chosen in the admissions lottery. " Here's the simple secret of this charter school - it selects, by lottery, those students who are already college-bound in their outlook. Those students in low-income neighborhoods that don't already have an intention to go to college don't bother applying. Isn't it amazing how great your school looks if you don't have to play by the same rules as other public institutions and basically get a top-notch batch of students hand picked for you?
In any case, Newsweek named Preuss one of the top 10 high schools in the United States. But now, with these allegations of grade tampering, which if true puts their entire grading system in doubt, we are now left to wonder if Newsweek was being hasty in its evaluation. If administrators were willing to give out grades for classes not even attended, then grade inflation could be a serious problem as well - especially for a school whose administration is more concerned with promoting the image of the school rather than the business of actual education.
In principle, the charter model is a decent one - one more closely aligned to the ideal model, a privatized system, where tax-payers are no longer held responsible for funding the education of other people's children, and where merit and individual achievement is rewarded rather than thwarted. If we are to have private education funded by our taxes, we should expect a less socialist system, and one based more on rewarding success and hard work. The idea of education being a "right" should be dismissed, and we should remind ourselves that education is a privilege. Those that abuse that privilege, or fail themselves to take full advantage of it, should be removed from the system - or at least provided with an education that suits their particular skills and talents (trade schools for instance), and those that succeed should be rewarded and it should be recognized that they have earned access to the next step. A tiered education system, where 6-12 students who have proven themselves successful move on to college-preparatory schools, and those who are not move on to others sorts of training, would be highly preferable to the unmanageable mish-mash system we have now, where kids on the track to universities are paired with losers and gang-bangers.
The important thing in any system is accountability. The flaw with the charter system it seems is that is still open to the same piss-poor management and underhandedness we see in other public institutions and bureaucracies. But, hopefully, the trend of holding students responsible for their own successes and failures will eventually work its way to educators and administrators as well.