This accountability idea that No Child Left Behind (and now Race to the Top) has brought us is so fantastic! It is a great way to get our students performing better and get our schools all performing above average. Clearly we have had poor performance in the past because teachers figured why put much effort into getting the kids to do well, when we get paid for showing up, and they can’t fire us anyway! That is why so many of us became teachers. That and the summers off! But if you pay us a bit extra, or better yet, base half our salary on the kids’ test scores, I am sure the scores will go through the roof.
And if it works for teachers, it ought to work for other jobs as well. I know many people in sales are already paid on commission - that is a sort of accountability, isn’t it? You don’t sell, you don’t eat - simple as that! Now that is motivation for you!
But we are missing the trick big time on other social problems that could easily be solved if only we applied this simple logic! For example, we can solve the crime problem by holding cops accountable. We can pay police officers based on the crime rates where they work. Research has shown that crime rates are very low in some neighborhoods. In fact, in some gated communities the crime rate is near zero. But in other neighborhoods, crime is rampant! If the police can be so effective in one area, there is no reason they should be any less effective in another, right? The trouble is clearly many of our police officers have low expectations, and this sends the wrong message to citizens, who become criminals as a result.
Our health care system also suffers from low expectations. Doctors are always looking for sickness - is it any wonder their patients get ill? We can solve the health crisis by making doctors accountable for the health of their patients. This will get them out there making sure people are healthy, instead of waiting around in those hospitals with all those deathly ill patients. Set your expectations high - no reason we cannot all live at least the average age. Any of your patients who get sick or die before that, sorry, it will come out of your check.
Have you ever noticed how the clients seen by social workers have so many problems? Drug abuse, alcoholism, unemployment - it is terrible - and society pays the price! We need to hold these government employees accountable for results! We should set high expectations for all their clients, regardless of their history or circumstances. Everyone can get a job and be productive - if they don’t have skills, enroll them at a four-year college. If we can get everyone to be college educated, the middle class will swell, the economy will grow, and our nation will beat the rest of the world with the ingenuity of this very simple concept of holding people accountable.
What do you think? Are there other problems we can solve with this astonishing accountability approach?
The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.