Why is accountability only for public schools?

By Greg Sampson
One of the
catch-phrases of this blog is “I threw up in my mouth a little.” Well, this
article made me throw up a lot—not a little bile around the teeth, but a
mammoth Thanksgiving feast all over my clothes, in my lap, and a pool that my
feet are soaking in.
To save you this
disgusting experience, the writer of the article, and the Washington think tank
behind him, The Heritage Foundation, says that accountability is only for
traditional public schools. To force private schools that take state government
vouchers to take the same annual assessment as public school students would
ruin the ability of private schools to be a laboratory for innovation.
(I reread the
article carefully. The author does not add charter schools to his
pronouncements,
but we can logically
infer that is what he really means. Private schools have never been looked at
as labs for experimentation and innovation, but that is the original reason for
charter schools to exist.)
Oy Vey! (Chris,
you’re having a bad influence on my writing … just kidding.)
Demolishing
arguments—pay attention, Heritage:
1.
The fourteenth amendment: Equal protection under the law. Why are
private/charter school students a privileged class? How about fair play?
Schools used to teach that to students. You’re saying, Heritage, that no longer
applies?
2.       Taxpayers should not expect
accountability over where their taxes are sent? You demand exactly that in all
other areas of government expenditures, Heritage.
3.       Private school accountability leads to
fewer seats? What they mean is that private schools don’t show up for the
game—they send in a forfeit because they cannot win.
4.       You talk about a “decentralized
learning process.” Okay, I’ll buy into that. To decentralize the learning
process, we need to:
a.       Repeal NCLB.
b.       Junk the Value Added Model that
everyone except self-interested politicians and technology-selling billionaires
says is ridiculous and invalid. Everyone includes mathematicians and
statisticians—people who have built their careers constructing valid
statistical measures. Is it really about the data? Then get good data.
c.       Eliminate all conditions of the
federal waivers from NCLB that the federal Department of Education, under the
leadership of Arne Duncan, forced on the states. States knuckled under during
the Great Recession to get the money the DOE dangled. But we know that, under
the law, contracts entered into under duress are invalid.
d.       Force state Boards of Education to
return autonomy to local school districts and their leadership.
e.       Reduce the testing that goes on.
Stop labeling students—give teachers back the respect and autonomy they deserve.
5.    Private means
just that—not public. If a private school starts taking money, it ceases to be
private.
I used to respect
these people (The Heritage Foundation). Now I wonder if they have gotten it so
wrong about education, how can I render them credibility about anything?

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