Warning: Has Educational Accountability Become a Political Pawn?

The word accountability is an extraordinarily powerful word. No one will ever argue the need for educators to be held accountable for their actions or deeds. But, what happens when you are being held accountable to a moving target? What happens when your standard of accountability continues to change? Think of education as a journey. You set your GPS for your destination, but when you get to the destination, you discover that you are in the wrong place because the destination has been changed. Has accountability become a political pawn?

Many years ago the No Child Left Behind Act was all about accountability and testing.

And we hold schools accountable for meeting the standards. There — we set an historic goal, and that is — every child should learn to read and do math at grade level by 2014. George Bush

In theory everything that was being said made sense and was a great rallying cry for educating all our students. The nation wanted the educational system to be held accountable for the education of all students. Who could not agree with that statement? Testing became the medium for determining if the schools were doing their jobs.

The key to measuring is to test. And by the way, I’ve heard every excuse in the book why we should not test — oh, there’s too many tests; you teach the test; testing is intrusive; testing is not the role of government. George Bush

This is where the problem began and this is where the term accountability became an unfair weapon of mass destruction. NCLB was considered a failure when 2014 came and went with very little to show for the years of accountability. In fact, many schools were forced to dismantle many exceptional programs like music, art and foreign language to provide room in student schedules for remedial tutoring, pre-testing and more testing. Did testing become more important than learning?

Taking a look at educator accountability today, educators are still held accountable for the education of all their students, as they should be. The federal government is still requiring high stakes testing to prove a school’s value, as they shouldn’t be. We have gone from bad to potentially worse. This past year, 2015, after the students had taken the test, the powers that be decided to change the scores that indicate proficiency in learning. Simply put, if 90 points was considered an A, these people randomly decided to make 96 the minimum score to receive an A. Why would any educator want to create a moving target for a student’s success? We want to set our students up to succeed not to fail. Our students have achieved the goal for which they were told was a measure of success and now we must inform them that that just was not the case.

Why is this happening? The state of Alabama elevated a vocal dissenter of public education to their highest educational rank of secretary of education, while Texas appointed the president of the home schooling association to be their secretary of education. I’m thinking that these kind of individuals are determined to destroy public education as opposed to supporting public education and creating strategies for improvement.

The following is a recipe for the demise of public education:

  • Choose a leader who hates or has absolutely no experience in public education
    Create a means of measuring a school’s worth that can be changed quickly and often (see common core.
  • As the schools begin to improve, change the minimum scores to make them look as if they haven’t improved.
  • Make laws to create the privatization of schools, if the schools fail under the new standards. (See senate Bill 6 in PA )
  • Watch frustrated public educators attempt to make a positive difference under extreme duress.

The word accountability used to be an effective word to teach people about the importance of doing a good job and working hard and being responsible. Now the word has become a political weapon. When did our kids’ education become just another political talking point? Are we willing to destroy public education to win elections?

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