School Choice Is Accountability
Last week, a group of education reformers issued a joint letter in which they argued that school choice is accountability. They wrote:
To some, accountability means government-imposed standards and testing, like the Common Core State Standards, which advocates believe will ensure that every child receives at least a minimally acceptable education. Although well-intentioned, their faith is misplaced and their prescription is inimical to the most promising development in American education: parental choice.
True accountability comes not from top-down regulations but from parents financially empowered to exit schools that fail to meet their child’s needs. Parental choice, coupled with freedom for educators, creates the incentives and opportunities that spur quality. The compelled conformity fostered by centralized standards and tests stifles the very diversity that gives consumer choice its value.
This is a point that I have made on the Show-Me Daily blog before. Several months ago I wrote:
Critics of school choice often lament that “private schools aren’t held accountable” because they don’t take state tests. What they don’t realize is that choice, not tests, are the best form of school accountability. State evaluation systems encourage schools to focus on the evaluation; choice encourages schools to focus on the student. Unfortunately, few families have school choice.
The beauty of school choice is that it allows parents to hold schools accountable to their vision of quality. This stands in stark contrast to state-based accountability, which imposes a standard vision of quality on everyone.