The Decline of Accountability
It was just a few years ago that outcomes were all the rage with the reform crowd. The problem with public schools, they said, was that we focus too much on inputs. Outfits like the Rand Corporation produced big reports on giving more weight to outputs. Or here's a paper by Mike Petrilli (Fordham Foundation) telling the state of Wisconsin how to look at those all-important outputs for quality control. The basic sales pitch for charters, repeated again and again, was that charters traded greater autonomy for greater acountability.
But there's a new breeze a-blowin', the same breeze that brought Betsy DeVos, Poppins-like, into town. As has been noted repeatedly, DeVos was never really on board with that accountability thing. Her faith is in God, the free market, rich corporate leaders, and parental choice (well, as much as the first three allow for)-- and that's all we need. In her spate of early interviews, she allowed as how there's not really any issue on which the feds need to intervene. The invisible hand will fix everything.
We don't need accountability. The only part that matters is choice. That is the output that matters.
You can see this new attitude sneaking into the reformsters themselves.
Every year the Fordham Foundation holds a wonkathon, in which they solicit policy ideas and proposals. Last year they also held a design competition in which they solicited ideas for accountability systems under ESSA (I entered that one but, shockingly, did not win). Last year's wonkathon was about looking for a choicy silver lining in the ESSA.
This year the Fordham is looking for ideas about how to spend the Trump $20 billion in voucher money. There are three requirements that the submission must meet:
- It promotes the expansion of parental choice in education
- It could reasonably be included in a tax reform bill and passed via reconciliation (since, as Politico is reporting, that appears to be the vehicle the Administration and leaders in Congress will try to use)
- It includes the number “$20 billion” (though of course it need not start there and might not grow to there)
Notice what's not here? No accountability requirement. No component to make sure that the $20 CURMUDGUCATION: The Decline of Accountability: