Monday, March 4, 2013

What Accreditation Means

What does accreditation really mean, especially to parents of students and students themselves? This question underpins the current thinking of ax and pitchfork wielding villagers intent on tossing out most of the Board. Actually, to have someone else toss them, but this is about Public Schools and Public Schools are all about someone else doing something. So in the context of "someone else" what is accreditation?

Does accreditation guarantee that your child's teacher is teaching in their subject area or that they are competent and qualified regardless? That would be NO.

Does it guarantee that the proper resources, human and other,  are available in each class and each school. That would be a big ole NO.

Will it ensure that schools have top notch curriculum supported by proper texts and ancillary material? No, but it will ensure that you buy new textbooks every five years, even if you don't actually get them, because the accrediting agency has ties to textbook vendors.

Will you have assurances that your school administrators are accountable and dedicated to continual improvement of student achievement? Of course not since the most obvious function of the accrediting agency is to protect administrators from scrutiny and criticism. After all it is the administrators who write that big check to the accrediting agency--you just "underwrite" it.

Will you at least know that your tax dollars are not frittered away on meaningless, trendy and vapid "education" packages, nepotistic hiring, and vendor cronyism? No, not really as the accrediting agency is singularly focused on ensuring that they and their cronies get paid.

Well at least accreditation guarantees that any given student achieves more academically, that their knowledge base is broader and deeper, that they think and communicate more clearly than they would without accreditation, right? That would be no, No and HELL NO!

So why are folks getting their knickers in a knot because DeKalb is collaborating with the State to lose accreditation by next year? It's as simple as following the money. The accrediting agency is recognized by the Feds and that means these parents will find it harder for their children to get access to government scholarships, education grants and even HOPE. Not impossible, just harder. And...they would have to do something.

At first glance this looks like a foolhardy trade of constitutionally protected rights for very little gain but when considering those that have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure and defend these rights discarding them so casually is reprehensible.