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Choice and Accountability

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Letter to the Editor
Tampa Bay Times
August 28, 2015

Parents don’t back Bush’s test emphasis | Aug. 25, column

Choice and accountability

As is evident in the annual PDK/Gallup poll, parents increasingly want school choices and are skeptical about the need for all the tests their kids are seemingly forced to take. Those two concepts, however, are not contradictory, as John Romano seems to suggest in an ineffective critique of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education successes.

Most polls confirm that parents want both choice and accountability, the two most important tenets of education reforms that have been credited with turning around a stagnant achievement gap nationally and in the 20 or so states that like Florida adopted such measures in the late 1990s.

State tests that provided the basis for parents, teachers and schools to assess their progress launched the nation into a new era of informed decisionmaking. But it’s not those tests that Romano is complaining about, it’s the 90 percent of tests that are created by schools and districts as defense mechanisms to “prove” to taxpayers that the state tests were flawed and who have created the insanity that is now causing a vocal minority to demand the baby be pitched with the bathwater.

Bush, like Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, is committed to state-based accountability systems which reveal when schools and districts succeed, or fail. Such data is critical to making all schools work better for all children.

Jeanne Allen, senior fellow, The Center for Education Reform, Washington D.C.