By now, it should be apparent that charter schools have been the spark to the education reform flame in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
At first, applicants hoping to open publicly funded but independently operated charter schools had to fight for every new campus, opposed by school board members who were strong union allies. But as charters showed remarkable progress with disadvantaged and minority students who had been failing in regular public schools, appreciation for them increased.
New laws limited the grounds on which the school board could reject charter applications, and the election of a more reform-oriented board brought the number of students attending charter schools to nearly 100,000, about twice as many as in the New York City school system.
Yet misguided attacks on charter schools still occur, most recently when L.A. Unified school board member Steve Zimmer introduced a resolution to temporarily halt the approval of new charters. The resolution was softened, but eventually, and rightly, it was rejected by the board.