As we pay justified attention to attempts to infringe on our property rights and to take our money to pay for a government healthcare system, let’s not lose track of the travesty that is our education system.
Specifically, I have in mind Linda Borg’s recent Providence Journal article:
About 98 percent of Rhode Island’s teachers in their latest evaluation were rated as effective or highly effective by their principals, a number at odds with student performance in a number of districts. …
“If everyone here was at 98 percent, Rhode Island would be leading the nation” in student achievement, “not Massachusetts,” said Tim Duffy, executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees.
Let’s put it plainly: The evaluations are a fraud designed to ensure that government schools and their employees have no real accountability. A few data points in the article reinforce this aggressive conclusion:
“Central Falls and West Warwick have high percentages of teacher effectiveness but student performances that lag behind state averages.”
“The Blackstone Valley Prep charter schools in northern Rhode Island report less than a third of their teachers are highly effective yet they show the most growth in student achievement.”
In last year’s edition of the review, a survey reported the embarrassing findings that fewer than half of teachers thought the evaluations were measuring anything, and two-thirds of principals admitted rating teachers too high.
So according to the evaluations, schools that are performing poorly (or even more poorly than the rest of Rhode Island’s government schools) ought to be doing well, and schools that are performing relatively well ought to be doing poorly. And if evidence emerges that the evaluation system is being gamed, well, they just stop asking the questions that had the embarrassing results.
The conclusion, here, is that government cannot evaluate itself, mostly because it doesn’t have any make-or-break incentive to improve. In education, it’s a veritable monopoly that has a huge amount of emotional leverage and political power to continue taking more and more resources on the premise of solving problems that are never fundamentally addressed.