By Curtis Shelton, Intern
In a recent speech at OCPA, education researcher Matthew Ladner discussed the issue of accountability as it relates to school choice programs.
Some school choice opponents say that school choice programs lack accountability. But for many of us who have recently gone through Oklahoma’s public school system, it is sometimes difficult to see how the public schools are being held accountable. Going through high school we all knew which teachers didn’t really care about teaching and gave no effort. We knew which teachers gave the students no hope of ever understanding the material. It was common knowledge among the students, but there was no effective way to take action besides the occasional complaint from a parent (usually to no effect). We also knew which teachers cared a lot, were dedicated to the profession, and received little credit for all the extra work they put in to help us master the material.
Once we graduated and went to college, things changed. We now had some control over who we were going to have as professors. A week before enrollment opened each semester, everyone would go online and go to ratemyprofessors.com to check out what other students thought of the professors available for each course. If there was a professor rated extremely high compared to the others we would wake up as soon as enrollment opened to make sure we could get in the class we wanted. Professors, of course, have the ability to see these reviews and can decide whether they are going to implement a change or not.
This is true accountability—or “next generation accountability,” as Dr. Ladner puts it. We see it with platforms such as Yelp, Uber, and Great Schools.
Parents utilizing school vouchers or Education Savings Accounts are able to hold schools accountable by voting with their feet. In today’s highly connected world, parents have the opportunity to find the right resources they want for their child’s education. This puts kids in the best situation possible for them to succeed while also giving the schools a clear way to improve themselves.