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Education myth No. 3: Public schools are held accountable while private schools are not

Education myth No. 3: Public schools are held accountable while private schools are not

Kaitlyn Shepherd
January 17, 2022

These excerpts were taken from “Myth-Educated: Debunking common education choice misconceptions in Idaho.” Read our full analysis online at: https://idahofreedom.org/research/myth-educated/

Fact: Private schools are accountable to parents and the public, while public schools lack democratic, financial, and academic accountability.

“As stakeholders in their children’s education, parents can withdraw their children and enroll them elsewhere if they are not satisfied with the quality of the education at a private school. Private schools must hold themselves to a high bar or risk losing money when students leave.

It is actually public schools that lack accountability. Public schools are unaccountable financially, democratically, and academically. 

First, public schools are not financially accountable to the public. In Idaho, teacher pay is not tied to merit. Rather, compensation is tied to career longevity and professional endorsements. As a result, public-school teachers receive pay raises regardless of the quality of their performance or their students’ academic success. Teachers who are not performing at satisfactory levels may receive pay raises over teachers who are exceeding expectations because they have been in the district longer. This policy fails to reward teachers for excellence, discourages innovation and improvement, and constitutes poor stewardship of taxpayer money.

Second, public schools are not democratically accountable. Local school boards are intended to represent the makeup of the community and be responsive to the concerns of local constituents. However, this goal has not been achieved because school board elections are not held during general elections, which results in low voter turnout. This means that the composition of school boards can reflect the efforts of activist special interest groups rather than the community at large.

Finally, public schools lack academic accountability. Antiquated testing systems mean that few public schools are held to task for failing to educate students. While schools must satisfy several reporting requirements, they are not required to act on their results and improve. Unfortunately, few schools receive any negative consequences for low student achievement. Additionally, although highly regulated, public schools have not become more accountable.”

Read the rest here.

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