Maybe Congress Should Butt Out of Education Accountability!

More Observations for my previous post:

Note: Committee on Education and the Workforce is considering legislation to revise ESEA now. Let your voice be heard before next Tuesday's hearing. 

This comment by Lofty Lofthouse was posted on Education Bloggers Network Central. This group of education activist bloggers has been discussing the importance of communicating NOW with Sen. Alexander regarding the fate of ESEA. You can read more from Lofty here

I'm still reading the piece---not done reading yet, but this one sentence stopped me cold:

"Who knows whether Congress can figure out how to hold schools accountable in a way that makes sense."

Congress should not be in charge of holding the public schools accountable for anything---that job belongs to elected school boards and state legislatures/governors and the only thing to hold accountable is if the teachers and schools are not breaking and laws, even Constitutional law.

If the U.S.Congress were put in charge of holding the almost 15,000 public school districts in 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia accountable for some legislated line-in-the -and, then Big Brother would be the classroom cop.

Right now, the classroom cop is Bill Gates and his minions and allies in the corporate war being waged on democratic public education.

If Congress is in charge of holding all the public schools accountable, top down decision making and leadership will remain in place. 

Lofty's  very simple clear-headed response to the discussion addresses a major problem with ESEA and its progeny NCLB - its oppressive, inappropriate use of standardized test scores for high stakes measurement of student learning, teacher effectiveness and school performance.

It reminds me of an occasion when my school district fellow teachers of gifted students were gathered and given the charge to "brainstorm a list of possible ways to reduce costs for our school system gifted program."  We broke into small groups and the first sarcastic idea was offered - "Well, we can turn off the air conditioners, eliminate pencils and paper and increase the ratio of books:students!"  That black humor made us realize we were being given the wrong charge, being tricked by the limitations inherent in the question in our overall goal for the day of improving the gifted program for our students. Our group was the first to return with our suggestion which proved to be a conversation stopper. Answer:  It Is not our job to find ways to reduce costs. It's our job to find ways to improve the quality of delivery of the program for our students."

Sen. Alexander - You are in charge of leading the direction your committee takes.  Consider how
your framing the questions and presenting the mission could serve to facilitate the future progress of public education or to contribute and extend the failures of NCLB and its testing regime.

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