Equity & Diversity Opinion

Teachers Want Accountability From the Top

By Anthony Cody — July 01, 2013 2 min read
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Over the past decade teachers have grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of “accountability.” Our unions have been castigated by corporate leaders and philanthropists for “protecting bad teachers.” Bill Gates has pumped billions of dollars into an effort to create airtight accountability systems that use test scores to measure student performance, and data systems to allow the value of each teachers’ work to be measured.

But meanwhile, accountability for the corporations themselves has gone out the window.

John Oliver shared this on The Daily Show, one of the few sources of truth in our media, in a segment called Money Boo-Boo:

Shep Smith of Fox News reports:

Some bombshell emails reportedly show how two big credit rating agencies accepted cash in exchange for greenlighting the risky practices that got us into this long mess. One S & P official reportedly emailed "Let's hope we're all wealthy and retired by the time this house of card[s] falters." And another quote: "Lord help our [expletive] scam. This has to be the stupidest place I have worked at."

As John Oliver then points out this is standard business practice. Senator Al Franken’s efforts to create a new system that would eliminate this obvious conflict of interest was thrown out in the house and senate, by elected officials beholden to corporate donors.

No accountability for banks and the rating agencies that are supposed to keep them honest. As a result, millions of Americans have lost their homes, and our economy is still reeling.

Meanwhile, a report last month showed that the largest 155 corporations in the nation paid just 1.8% of their income in state taxes. The average required rate is 6.56%, but corporations have become adept at avoiding their obligations. The amount of money these corporations have saved - about $14 billion a year -- is roughly equal to the amount that has been cut from state education budgets.

No accountability for corporations that shirk their duty as citizens to support public education.

While bad teachers must be removed with as little delay as possible, there seems far less urgency for dealing with the ineffective systems of assessment we are now spending billions on. In Indiana this spring, students found themselves in front of computer screens flashing the word FAIL at them, as McGraw Hill’s testing system crashed for two days.

Very little accountability for testing companies responsible for the systems by which the rest of us are held accountable.

Teachers are not against accountability, and we never have been. We hold our students accountable for doing their work. We hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable for making learning happen in our schools. And now it is time to start holding those in power accountable as well.

How about taxation policies and enforcement that result in corporations paying their share of taxes so our schools can receive the resources they need? How about limiting tests to those that are absolutely necessary, and unplugging ourselves from the test driven paradigm?

Perhaps the next time some “reformer” says teachers are “against accountability,” we can give them a lesson on where accountability is truly needed.

What do you think? Is it time to flip the script when accountability is discussed?

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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.