One should also note that Brooks chose to highlight charter schools as examples of how one can respond to accountability without test-prep. It is as if he could not find a single example of a school overseen by a single regular school district that has escaped the pressures to engage in test prep. Or that he along with other pundits have a severe availability bias in favor of charter schools. It is an unfortunate bit of hype; while some charter schools do very well compared with local public schools (as would any random sample of schools), a good portion fall near or below the recorded achievement of local public schools. Yet Brooks and others continue to hype charter schools, much to the detriment of public debate. In the real world, meanwhile, silver bullets continue to be a rare commodity: Jacksonville's KIPP school fell in the lowest rating band in Florida this year. I take any state rating system with a few pounds of salt, but there will always be a consistency problem for overhyping school reformers and their fans: test score results are fragile. Maybe the Jacksonville KIPP school didn't engage in enough test-prep?
Empowering schools, one of Joel Klein's favorite claims for his New York City reforms, means only that principals have more power over teachers (and less power in relationship to city and state).