There’s really no reason to follow the fights over government schooling. Unless there’s been some outrageous new low that makes the newspapers, there’s nothing new when it comes to the government’s monopoly on education. The power structure is the same as it’s been for decades. And the same battles that have been fought in meetings and letters to the editor for more than 50 years are still being fought today with the same predictable results.
Here’s how it goes. The superintendent (now called a CEO!) hosts a meeting with parents and makes a show of listening to them. The parents talk about how the schools are failing their children, and the politicians (including the superintendent) make promises about how everything will be different in the future. Then everybody goes home, and nothing happens.
The Gazette has another story about one of these familiar, useless meetings. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, came to District 9 and… wait for it… “listened to concerns.” Parents demanded “teacher accountability,” and the CEO assured them that “his administration would evaluate teachers.”
Before they left the meeting, the CEO threw in a comforting platitude. “If you want to be successful, you can’t tolerate mediocrity,” he said. Then they all went home.
And that will be the end of that.
The demand for teacher accountability is not new. The problem is that having the government evaluate its own teachers is like having the students grade their own papers. The government will rarely fail anyone on its enormous payroll, even when his work is terrible.
Teachers and principals need to be accountable to parents, not to the special interest groups that control the schools. And the only way for teachers and principals to be accountable to parents is for parents to have the power to vote with their feet. They must be free to choose the school and the type of education that is best for their child, or they will never have a say in their child’s education. All they will have is another useless meeting with a CEO who pretends to listen to concerns.