When two of the organizations that have most doggedly resisted the charter school movement in public education – the LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles – propose to set up a pseudo-charter of their own, the move ought to arouse suspicion. Fed up with the state of affairs in the Los Angeles Unified School District, teachers and parents at Parkman Middle School in Woodland Hills wanted to break away and form their own charter. But the district has fought the petition, and now, joining forces with UTLA, it hopes to do an end-run around the entire process. Instead of making Parkman a charter, LAUSD and UTLA brass propose making it a “waiver” school. Although short on specifics, the idea is to keep Parkman under the control of the LAUSD – and with a UTLA-represented staff – but extend it some of the autonomy enjoyed by charter schools. Union and district officials make no secret that what they do at Parkman might provide the model for how to extinguish the charter movement and block Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plans for taking over the LAUSD. And that ought to make anyone concerned about the future of public education in Los Angeles nervous. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 If what the union and district are proposing is to undermine public enthusiasm for charters by coming up with something even better, well then, by all means, let’s see what they have to offer. That’s the sort of innovation charters are supposed to foster. But given that both organizations have spent decades fighting reform, it seems they may have something more nefarious up their sleeves, namely, thwarting charters through a combination of bureaucratic obstruction and smoke-and-mirrors PR. That’s what seems to be happening at Parkman. First the bureaucracy thwarts the school’s charter application, and then the LAUSD-UTLA tandem try to defuse the issue with some vague promises of Charter Lite. Here, try this, they say – all the benefits of charter education, with none of the burdensome bureaucratic hassles. If either organization had any track record of supporting real education reform, the idea would have a lot more credibility. Likewise, if district officials truly believe more autonomy is good for schools, they could extend it to schools throughout the district – not just Parkman – and it could do it now. All genuine reforms that offer hope that kids will get a better education are welcome. And who knows, maybe “waiver schools” will be the next great innovation in public education. So let’s see what the LAUSD and UTLA have to offer – more of the same, or a bold initiative everyone can support. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!