Sunday, April 15, 2012

State oversight of educational experimentation in public schools not just an issue in Delaware

In Colorado the issue is not charters, but online schools.  Nonetheless, the issue is almost exactly the same:  the State Department of Education apparently does not follow through with its oversight responsibilities:

DENVER - State auditors delivered a highly critical report on online schools Monday, saying their students perform worse and drop out more often than their counterparts in public schools.
Auditors also said the state Department of Education failed to act against school districts that sponsor underperforming online schools, despite state rules requiring that such districts have their accreditation revoked or be placed on accreditation watch.
The report, presented to the Legislative Audit Committee, said students who get their education online had lower reading, writing and math scores on statewide tests than students in public schools.
This raises an interesting question:  are State Departments of Education the best entities to be supervising experimental education programs like charters or online schools?

Generally organizations like DOE have (a) a great stake in the maintenance of the status quo; (b) are very susceptible to state/local political influences; and (c) have literally no experience and no available staff to do such monitoring.

(Local note:  if you think, as Kilroy does, that DOE is not monitoring charter schools adequately, you should delve into the dirty little world of that office's complete and utter failure to monitor special education programs effectively.  You'd be horrified.  But I digress.)

So what's the alternative?  I do not think it is to abandon educational experimentation.

I'm not sure about the answer, but I know it is not to constantly turn to the agency that has proven habitually unable to manage our public education system.


Dana Garrett said...

So if the government should not monitor them but yet you have no alternative to the government monitoring them, then who should monitor them? Should they go unmonitored?

Steven H. Newton said...


Possibly I was unclear. I did not mean that "the State" (as in State of Delaware) should not be monitoring public educational experiments.

I meant that DOE is the wrong organization for the task, despite its name.

I did suggest the State Auditors Office, Attorney General's office, or one of the universities.

My point is that DOE has a horrible track record, and organizational disincentives to do the job objectively.