Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Accountability": Government School vs. a Free Market

A recent Objective Standard blog post of mine deals with a school "reform" fad sweeping the nation from the President on down, summed up in the buzzword,"Accountability." The Best Teacher Evaluation "Plan" is a Free Market in Education highlights an evaluation system offered by the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation. It opens with:

Teacher evaluation is all the rage today. The “central question” confronting the education establishment, writes Lyndsey Layton in the Washington Post, is, “What’s the best way to identify an effective educator?”

After touching on the essentials of the Gates plan, I then ask, "What’s missing from this equation?" Learn the answer and the solution by reading the rest.

In a related development,  Warren Cooper of NJN Publishing reports that Accountability comes to education as two Hunterdon districts pilot new principle assessment protocols. The article prompted this comment from eastprecinctguy:

The only REAL accountability is the free market - the ability to enroll your child in the school they feel is best for their child - without a severe financial penalty.   Everything else is mindless propaganda.

My supporting comment:

I agree, eastprecinctguy

What's missing from the accountability crusade to evaluate educators is the person who knows the child best; the parents. Every child is an individual, and the only true advocate is the child's parents, who logically, morally, and rightfully deserve to direct their own child's education. Educators should be directly accountable to the parents, not the state.

The only way that can happen is when the parents can "vote with their wallets" in an education free market. We don't need another top-down scheme imposed by politicians looking to score "school reform" points. We need the free flow of innovative education ideas and philosophies that only a free market can foster.

Universal education tax credits would be a good initial step toward the goal of separating education from politics and the state. Empowering parents and educators to freely contract in a free market should be the goal. That would be real school reform.

This article states:

The new rules make it possible for a district to fire a teacher — even a tenured teacher — if his or her class doesn’t meet measurable academic goals. Similarly, if an individual school doesn’t achieve [school-wide] student test result goals, the principal’s job is likewise at risk.

The fundamental purpose of education is to train the child to use his mental tools--the powers of abstraction, conceptualization, integration--and to think objectively and independently so as to set him up for a lifetime of joy in learning and growth. 

This new evaluation craze is based on a collectivist premise: It will tell you if the student herd--whether the class or the school-wide student body--has met some state-imposed "achievement goals." But it tells you nothing of the educational development of the individual child's, only of whether he measured up to the collective yardstick. The student is a pawn in a game played by adults motivated by fear of losing their jobs or enduring salary punishment lest they pump up their students' "achievements" to satisfy the evaluators. 

It is fundamentally corrupt--just another scheme to fix the unfixable; the government school monopoly. Far from being innovative, the accountability crusade will stifle innovation. Innovation implies the possibility of failure, which is part of the learning process. What incentive will an educator have to try new ideas, when any failure can mean failing to meet some bureaucratic "achievement goal," thus putting his job at risk? It is unfair to the students, the teachers, and the administrators. 

Related Reading:

Teacher Accountability Follows from Genuine Market Activity

Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits

By All Means, Let Parents Lead

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