Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If mama ain't happy -- tough luck

Tahlequah Public Schools superintendent Shannon Goodsell, who is paid $124,858 annually to oversee a school district on the federal needs-improvement list, is not a fan of school vouchers. Among other things, he raises the issue of accountability:

The only entity the private school is held accountable to is Mom. If Mom is happy, the money stays with the school. If Mom is not happy, then Mom has the right, if she wants, to pull them out and put them back into the public schools ...

That is very well said, though, oddly, Mr. Goodsell appears to think it's an argument against vouchers.

In any case, let us contrast this private school's accountability with the accountability faced by Mr. Goodsell's public schools. Let's say Mom sends her children to a Tahlequah public school, and is not happy that Tahlequah produces students with math performance worse than that of the typical student in the average developed country. Indeed, let's say Mom is downright embarrassed that the math achievement of the average student in Tahlequah is at the 32nd percentile relative to an international comparison group. Let's say Mom is appalled to discover that if one picked up the Tahlequah school district and dropped it into Canada, the average Tahlequah student would be at the 23rd percentile in math achievement. Or that if it were relocated to Singapore, the average Tahlequah student would be at the 17th percentile in math achievement. Or that if it were relocated to Finland, the average Tahlequah student would be at the 16th percentile in math achievement.

In short, let's say everyone acknowledges the obvious: the Tahlequah Public Schools desperately need improvement. To whom are these educators accountable? Ah yes, and how is that accountability to distant bureaucrats working out for Mom, who can only watch as another year goes by and her son's childhood continues to slip away?

As the late Steve Jobs once said: "I remember seeing a bumper sticker with the Bell [telephone] logo on it and it said 'We don't care. We don't have to.' And that's what a monopoly is. That's what IBM was in their day. And that's certainly what the public school system is. They don't have to care."

No, they're going to get paid whether Mom is happy or not. They're not accountable.


Gary said...
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Anonymous said...

We are very proud of our student's accomplishments. Tahlequah Public Schools has a dedicated staff that is committed to serving children. We have much to celebrate.

The use of voucher systems is a direct violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. Public funds are to be used for PUBLIC benefit not for the benefit of a select few. Additionally Tahlequah Public Schools is both accountable and transparent for the dollars allocated for education. The lack of both accountability and accreditation standards for private schools with regards to public funds is very concerning.

P.S. Dr. Goodsell.