This Associated Press story reports that the kinder-and-gentler Massachusetts Board of Education is "searching for gentler euphemisms to describe the state's failing schools after educators complained current labels damage teacher morale and student self-esteem." So instead of getting called "underperforming" they might be labeled a "Commonwealth priority."Are they joking? Is this an April Fool's Day joke? One of the primary theories behind standards-and-accountability is to shame schools (and their districts) into taking the tough actions to turn themselves around. Clear labels also alert parents to a problem so they can get involved-or get busy finding another option. It's hard to think of a better way to keep parents in the dark than to call their schools a "priority."
For their next act, maybe the board will suggest that Bear Stearns be labeled a "priority" investment firm. We can remember when the Massachusetts board was a model of toughness and foresight; where are their "priorities" now?