For many years, Karin Klein wrote editorials about education for the Los Angeles Times. She took a buyout and now writes freelance on education and other topics. With occasional diversions, the L.A. Times faithfully followed Eli Broad’s lead on education. The billionaire is living proof that being very rich qualifies you as an expert on most everything. He spends lavishly on art and medical research and has anointed himself an education expert. His foundation gives the L.A. Times $800,000 for its education coverage, which may be his way of guaranteeing he will never be exposed as a know-nothing in his hometown paper.

Now that Klein is free, she writes that miracle schools are mirages. Her case in point: Ballou High School in D.C., which claimed that all its graduates were accepted into colleges.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone to read about another supposedly phenomenal school accomplishment that ended up being more mirage than miracle.

“The latest example comes from Washington, D.C., where in June, it was widely reported that Ballou High School, where few students tested as proficient in math or English, had nonetheless, incredibly sent all its seniors to college.

“Incredible, indeed. When NPR and the local public radio station WAMU joined forces to re-examine the Ballou miracle, they found that half of the graduates had missed at least three months of classes in a single school year. A fifth of them had been absent for more than half the school year. Teachers complained that they had been instructed to give students a grade of 50 percent on assignments they hadn’t even handed in, and that they were pressured to pass students whose work didn’t remotely merit it.

“Students complained that they were utterly unprepared for the colleges that everyone had been so proud of them for entering. And credit recovery courses – which have been criticized as too easy – played a big role in their graduations. The NCAA rejects most of these courses for college athletes; why shouldn’t colleges have the same requirements for other students?

“More than anything else, though, the Ballou High case teaches us once again that when we place intense pressure on schools to meet certain numbers, they’ll find a way to do it – one that might not involve providing a superior education. Carrots and sticks alone don’t improve schools, certainly not in the absence of funding to reduce class sizes (and teacher workloads), or to help low-income students overcome obstacles.”

Will the L.A. Times editorial board acknowledge that intense pressure to raise test scores and graduation rates corrupts not only the measure but the process being measured?

Will someone tell Eli Broad or has he surrounded himself by yes-persons?

This is Campbell’s Law, which is inexorable.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article190028449.html#storylink=cpy