Carl Cohn is one of the most respected figures in American education. He is a problem solver who has been superintendent in several districts in California. He won many plaudits for his leadership in Long Beach. I met him when he was superintendent in San Diego, which was probably the first urban district to be subjected to a heavy, concentrated dose of what was called “reform,” in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Cohn was called in, to clean up the demoralization left behind by top-down leaders who arrived with a script. In my 2010 book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, I devoted a chapter to the colossal failure of “reform” in SD. I interviewed Cohn and was pleasantly surprised by his candor and insight. Talking to him reassured me that my reactions were on target.

In this post, he urges the reform of California’s charter law.

He does not lay out a menu of what is needed, but he points to some genuine problems.

Note that one of the members of Tony Thurmond’s Task Force rejected Cohn’s request for some relief from the law.  That would be Margaret Fortune, Chair of the Board of the California Charter School Association, which lobbies to protect the status quo.