Parents, Not Governments for Schools

Published July 27, 2010

In the July 8 column, “Good teachers for all,” Amber Arellano rightfully bemoans Michigan’s failure to address its teacher tenure practices. The article is a realistic assessment of the status of reforms in Michigan and throughout the United States. The article makes one mistake, though, by intimating reform must come through a new set of teacher accountability laws.

Just as we would never think to use the Legislature to hold Olive Garden, for example, accountable for the taste of its linguine alfredo, we shouldn’t assume the government is the most effective way to hold educators accountable.

Instead, we should create an education marketplace in Michigan through a series of choice-based reforms. Empowering parents to take an active role in their child’s education removes the inefficient separation between consumer and product and holds teachers and schools accountable immediately for the quality of their work.

A teacher like the article’s Kimberly Kyff would see direct benefits for the great work she does and others would see punishment for low-quality work. Michigan needs to think bigger than another layer of state educational laws; it needs to empower parents.

Marc Oestreich, education legislative specialist, Chicago

From The Detroit News