In education reform’s post-election landscape, long-dormant fault lines have slipped, opening huge chasms of belief as former allies run to their respective partisan or issue-based corners.
Accountability, one of the deepest of those fault lines, seems to have become a totemic stop sign among reformers who find their political anchor in the Democratic Party. Many such folks now brandish accountability as their sine qua non, despite possessing neither the political or policy wherewithal to stop, or slow, potential change at the federal level or in two thirds of America’s statehouses.
There is, however, a problem with re-enacting Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog, shouting, “You shall not pass!” Here and on this issue, the ensuing fall may be similar. The fight over accountability isn’t actually in front of us—it’s behind us, and it’s been lost already. More specifically, it was sold out in bipartisan fashion and returned to the states from D.C. in as fractured a fashion as possible.
I've been a fierce supporter of the No Child Left Behind accountability framework, but it wasn’t hard to see the cracks in the bulwark. Most noticeably, the confluence of Republicans (shunning federal overreach), self-interested teachers unions (opposing teacher evaluation), and...