Let Families Grade Schools

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA’s Perspective carries my article on why we should restore final authority over education to parents, particularly in light of the Louisiana debacle:

Tests are not neutral. If you control the test, you control the curriculum. What gets taught is determined by what gets tested.

Allowing the state to test the schools gave politicians power over the schools, and the schools refused to accept it. Private schools don’t like limitations on what students they can take or what they charge, and rightly so. Such limitations damage education. But schools will typically put up with that to participate in a choice program, because they want to serve kids.

However, most schools absolutely will not allow outsiders to tell them what to teach. That’s surrendering the essence of the school. Admittedly, there are exceptions…Absent such unusual conditions, however, private schools rightly reject the extension of state power into the content of the classroom.

I also enjoyed doing a delightful radio interview this morning on the same subject, focusing more on why parents are the right repository of power over education – not only because they know their children best and are most motivated to seek their good, but also because parental authority is the only way to ground education in a holistic and coherent understanding of what education is for – what is the good life that we want children educated into.

As always, your comments are very welcome!

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2 Responses to Let Families Grade Schools

  1. Ann in L.A. says:

    If we take Hanuchek’s research on teacher quality to heart and decide to let go the worst teacher in every school each year, the stumbling block is figuring out which teacher goes. Those advocating no change to the status quo will tell you that this is impossible: no metric, no test, nothing would be a good measure.

    That’s crap. Every single principal knows exactly who the bad teachers are. When class assignments go out in a couple months for next year, and parents find out who their kids’ teachers will be, calls will start flooding in to school administrations demanding that kids get moved out of Teacher X’s class. The one with the most parental complaints gets fired. Easy.

    Parents know.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Indeed, and parents are not constrained by the bureaucratic and political obstacles that make it effectively impossible for principals to take the lead on reform.

      Giving parents the final say (via school choice) would free up principals to do their jobs as they cannot now. They could say “sorry, the parents want this” and then do what they already know needs to be done but cannot now do.

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