Tuesday, August 9, 2011


In education accountability seems to be requiring students to take standardized tests and if the students do not meet the required scores the school is punished. This is supposed to mirror the free market. In the free market if a company makes a bad product losing consumers and eventually going out of business is the punishment.

This is the story of my first riding mower. I spent the winter researching quality, price, and size of riding mower for my yard. What I ended up with was a piece of junk that I had to take to the mechanic at least once a year from 2006 to 2009, when they finally replaced the lower part of the engine. It was the next summer I was contacted about a class action lawsuit.

The suit was settled just this year (2011) I received a $21 check in the mail and a one-year extension of my manufacturers warranty. I wrote Kohler (engine manufacturer) and told them my tale of woe and asked how I could make a claim on the warranty.

Well, it turns out that though my engine failure could have been caused by a manufactures defect, it could also have been caused by something else entirely. Therefore without pictures of the broken engine or a clear recollection of a repair job done two years ago I was denied any claim whatsoever.

So tell me. How is this being held accountable? Making hundred hundreds of extra dollars per machine because then returning each customer who filled out the proper paperwork $21?

Have you ever read a Dilbert cartoon? The incompetents get promoted into management.
Dilbert Cartoon from http://www.dilbert.com/

Some folks think unions and schools are protecting subpar teachers who should be drummed out of the profession. Claiming that in the free market employees are regularly fired for poor performance. I worked a lot of jobs from the age of 16 until 30 when I got into teaching and I haven’t seen that many people fired.

In my experience (outside of education) it is completely normal for the “bad” employee to continue working for years. It even seems that the higher the pay the more secure the job for the “bad” employee. The lower paying jobs are usually shift work and the “bad” employee can just be left off the schedule while managers just pass the blame down the line.

Have you ever watched the Apprentice with Donald Trump? When the project manager admits a mistake s/he usually gets fired.
Donald Trump picture found at http://www.thebestdvdshop.com/images/

Should there be accountability in education. Yes, the nature of the accountability needs to be a matter for open discussion between teachers, administration, parents, and students. I would lean towards things like digital portfolios that have a record of work done as opposed to tests, but that is because I value fair and honest evaluations over cost savings.

Should there be a system to remove teachers? Yes, and there already is one in every district. Can it be streamlined and improved? In some cases yes, but in other cases it works just fine.

At the end of the day the person who should be evaluating teachers and holding us accountable are the parents. They don’t do that through test scores. They should be doing that by following the progress of their children during the year, communicating with their teacher, and supporting and supplementing the education as much as possible.

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