It's a sign of the moral bankruptcy of our times that during the longest economic boom on record, the United States of America cannot provide the resources so that every child receives a quality education. Instead, policymakers give our low-income children and schools lectures on "accountability" and mandates for high-stakes tests. But the accountability craze has gotten out of control, as if somehow accountability in and of itself is more important than teaching and learning.
Policymakers need to decide: Are they interested in better documenting failure or are they interested in helping children to learn?
Unfortunately, accountability and high-stakes testing are merely the latest in a long line of "magic bullet reforms." There's the voucher magic bullet - under which public schools per se are seen as the problem because they are controlled by the public and don't provide sufficient choices. The charter school magic bullet rests on the belief that learning will flourish if schools can get rid of troublesome rules and regulations. Site-based governance is another magic bullet, spawned by the belief that if schools can make more decisions, everything will be all right. Now there's the magic bullet of higher standards, as if somehow schools have been held back by a commitment to low standards.
And now it's the accountability magic bullet - which in practice has become the high-stakes test magic bullet. After all, what good is accountability if there aren't consequences? And to prove they are serious about accountability, policymakers have instituted serious consequences.
Public schools have had so many magic bullets in the last 10 years it's a wonder they haven't been completely killed off.