Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, La Jolla

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007 | I am deeply saddened to read about allegations of grade-changing at UCSD’s Preuss School. Since Principal Doris Alvarez was named in the scandal, it is fitting that she resign her position at this time, but I am sad about that too.

I have known Doris Alvarez for more than a decade and have always believed her to be a remarkable educator, at Hoover High School and at Preuss. My essential view of her remarkable abilities remains unchanged, even in the face of the University’s proper and thorough audit.

There is no excuse for changing students’ grades. But it seems to me there is tremendous pressure on everyone involved in one of these bright-new-penny/breaks-the-mold charter schools — enough pressure that even seasoned professionals like Alvarez may succumb to embroidering the truth for the sake of recognized corporate-style first-tier “success.” There seems to be no room these days for administrators, teachers and students at places like Preuss School to try, to fail and then to try again without serious repercussions such as possible loss of support and reputation.

On a trip up north last summer, I heard eerily similar allegations from a disillusioned young teacher at an experimental East Palo Alto charter high school that is under the aegis of Stanford education reform guru Linda Darling-Hammond. I wonder, will there be an audit there too?

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