The Purpose of Education

In their annual poll of the public’s attitude toward public education, what prompted the well-respected PDK (Phi Delta Kappa) association’s new question about the purpose of education?

And how is it the question asks about the main goal of a public school education while the website and discussion shifts the conversation to the purpose of education?

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-3-46-47-pmJust semantics? Maybe. But, did you know that one definition of semantics is “a deliberate distortion or twisting of meaning, as in advertising, propaganda, etc.”?

Purpose is the reason for which something is done.

Goal is an aim or desired result.

And because struggles in the education reform war continually demonstrate that words are determining outcomes of our battles, we should pay close attention. Words have become the weapon of choice against an unsuspecting public.

The words of reform sold us a perceived need to reform a whole system. The reality is that we needed to only reform the schools in our country that needed re-forming — high-poverty, low-performing schools. We had already identified them before the 1980’s.

The truth? Test-based accountability methods changed nothing. And school choice only reshuffled the deck.

But let’s look at the question of the hour…screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-3-30-15-pm….and look at what one long-time. …long, long time… education-and-the-economy expert, Mr. Marc Tucker, had to say.

This would be a good guess since the marketing of the purpose of education seems to be increasing.

This would be a good guess since the marketing plan appears to be focusing on promoting the purpose of public education as a workforce pipeline. America’s choice?

Our expert is guessing? Let me guess; he knows something we don’t. After all, he is a long-time occupant of the D.C. inner circle, father of the Education/Labor Market System, and an international systems expert. He knows what is going down.

Tucker believes that parents should be choosing BOTH prepare students academically and for work…always beating his education-and-the-economy drum. But why not choose “to be good citizens”?

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This is one more topic where my opinion differs from Marc Tucker’s.

I confess, there is just something about Mr. Tucker’s narrow-mindedness (and his continuing position of power) that makes me want to write. So, here’s my view of this question….

Only 26 percent of respondents in this PDK poll think that preparing students to be good citizens is the most important goal of a public school education. Only!?! Yes, that should be alarming.

Let me ask you; what does it take to be a good citizen?

I thought we needed to learn to read so that we could inform ourselves. I thought we needed to be able to do the math, including understanding statistics, so that we would be less likely to be fooled.

I thought we needed to learn to gather our own facts and think critically because that’s what we need to do in order to be the ultimate authority (the check and balance) in maintaining a representative form of government.

I thought that the pursuit of happiness was a fundamental America value and it meant that our personal interests were important.

I thought that being a good citizen included not being a drag to society, which means being prepared to work and doing the best you can to support yourself.

Academics and work?

Yes, they are part of being a good citizen. But, there is much more to producing an educated electorate than what is being offered in the narrow curriculum of way too many disadvantaged districts —a situation worsened by our outcome-based reforms. Mr. Tucker created and pushed this test-based theory from the get-go.

Tucker has been and continues to be a go-to for The Education Oligarchy.

Yet, Tucker goes on to blame the United States for the damage done to vocational education. — But it’s the STANDARDS STUPID! — Look in the mirror, oh creator of the outcome-based system.

How many times has Mr. Tucker’s publications directed those in power to “start first with academic standards”? Have they ever faced the facts?

The focus on standards narrowed the curriculum.

The focus on standards was deadening to instruction.

The focus on standards almost killed the idea that students need to apply what they learn to real world experiences.

Wake up, America! It’s time to fight for a broad, balanced curriculum, not a narrow set of standards.

We are a nation at risk and the enemy is masked as an expert.

And since when has the purpose of our public education system been to produce already trained workers for private industry? Granted, one purpose is to ensure a solid educational foundation upon which to build. BUT,….

Since when is the goal of public schools to run kids through the workforce development pipeline and pour them directly into jobs? Of course we all need a job but test-and-sort is a recipe for unhappiness.

And, is it a coincidence that editorials are appearing in my local newspaper parroting the same “purpose of education” as the new PDK poll and Mr. Tucker?

“Accelerating talent pipelines is a deliberate effort to prepare our kids, and adults, faster than traditional education pathways, for high paying jobs we know exist today.

How do we build talent pipelines? We embrace three fundamental realities changing our world.

First, we acknowledge the purpose of education is to get a good job and improve our income.

Second, we recognize companies are rapidly shifting their focus to skills and not diplomas for hiring.

Third, we recognize industry is the primary customer of our education system.

Finally, the solution demands we empower industry to influence education outcomes.

NO! This is NOT the purpose of OUR free system of public schools as envisioned by our founding fathers. This is a takeover of our public education system by THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE WORLD (that includes information systems).

 Please don’t let the public schools become just another one of their information delivery systems and their publicly funded training services. Is this the expectation parents have for their children’s schools?

When those who run the show begin giving us the illusion that public opinion is driving education policy, we should be very, very concerned that the PDK annual poll has a new driver.  We — and our representatives — will hear what they say is public opinion. ….. Think about it.

For the first time since the inception of the PDK/Gallup poll on education in 1969, Langer Research Associates did the polling instead of Gallup. That in itself might not mean much. But, how much do we know about this relatively new firm other than they did work for ABC News and Bloomberg? And this particular question, about the purpose of education, is straight out of the standard-bearers playbook….?…

The Reality of the Education Reform War

They” control the language, develop the conversation, and convince the public that their way is the right way.

When you have high-powered marketing firms pushing your agenda, your message pops up everywhere. It’s no coincidence.

Thankfully, Gallup (on their own without PDK) continued their tradition of asking parents about their satisfaction with their own schools.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-41-07-pmWith 76 percent of parents satisfied with their child’s education, isn’t it time we asked; what are we reforming? And how is it we are changing the whole system and not focusing on what needs fixing (23%)?

Ask Mr. Tucker. He was the go-to education expert back when the standards,testing, accountability movement took off and apparently he continues to be a power player. He’s one national driver who hasn’t changed.

Do you know who is driving education reform in your state?

If charters and “choice” are high on your state’s list of laws to pass (or have already been passed), good chance ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is involved. The wild west is certainly in their pocket and the conversation about the purpose of education has been going on for some time here.

In Idaho (2013), our Governor’s Task Force on Improving Education stated that …

“the higher purpose inherent in education is obvious.”

But it is not obvious in their plan. Their words mean nothing. Their focus continues to be on a narrowed, test-based curriculum with the same old outcome-based accountability that never held anyone accountable. This is state-led?

If this is called “state-led” under the dictates of the new federal education law (Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA), it is no different from the fed-led dictates of No Child Left Behind. The outcome is the same. The law is driving us towards the development of a corporate-controlled, labor development system dubbed public education.

Are we sure this is the direction we want public education to go?

Are we sold on the purpose of education as workforce development (and military recruitment)? Mission accomplished?index

Outcome-Based Education Reform

“For 30 years, this country has been slowly seduced and become intoxicated by one reform strategy with an ever-changing name — outcome-based education reform. In all too many classrooms, our focus on the ‘outcome’ has come at the expense of the process of educating children. Outcomes equated to test scores, and education became test preparation.”… That is from my first blog!

Outcome-based, standards-based, proficiency-based, mastery-based, performance-based, test-based — these and many others all describe basically the same process of using standards and the testing of “outcomes” for the foundation of a “system of instruction, assessment, grading, and reporting.”

Today, most people in the country do not understand what brought us to this point of such hot contention over the use of test scores.

Outcome-based education proponents and many parents believe that standardized tests are an “effective” measure of student achievement. But as any doctor can tell you, test results don’t always give you straightforward answers. All tests have strengths and weaknesses and must be interpreted with that in mind.

On the other side of the argument, fewer than 25 percent of Americans believe that the increased testing we have done over the last decade has helped the performance of their local public schools. A majority of the public rejects using standardized tests scores to evaluate teachers.

The philosophy upon which we reform education is crucial to have right.

It is crucial that the philosophy upon which we reform education is right.

What many do not understand is that people like myself that are against the outcome-based education reform theory are not against standards, against the proper use of standardized tests, or against accountability. I am opposed to doing anything in the name of systemic reform that will knowingly do harm to some of our students chances for success in life.

The evidence is clear. Experiments with the outcome-based theory in 1913, the late 1930’s, and officially since 2002, with No Child Left Behind, all came to the same conclusion; it narrowed the curriculum, it narrowed the curriculum, and it narrowed the curriculum.

McMurrer_FullReport_CurricAndInstruction_072407.pdf

McMurrer_FullReport_CurricAndInstruction_072407.pdf

In life, a “narrowed curriculum” translates into limited learning opportunities. Those most harmed by a narrow curriculum are children whose parents do not have much to offer in the way of educational opportunities in their homes and lives. Quality public schools are their fair shot at success – in theory.

A 2007 survey found “that nearly 75 percent of [civics and social studies] teachers, who say they are using news less often in the classroom, cite mandated standardized tests as the reason. They say that preparing for the tests takes time away from the classroom discussion of news.

In life, will that translate into disinterested adults who won’t be inclined to fulfill their civic duty?  Is this the outcome we want?

www.idahostatesman.com/2014/10/27/3452348/the-future-of-voting-in-idaho.html?sp=/99/106/128/

www.idahostatesman.com/2014/10/27/3452348/the-future-of-voting-in-idaho.html?sp=/99/106/128/

Why are we doing this?

We expect professionals to follow a high standard of practice. We have given authority to lawmakers to maintain educational oversight through policy making; should lawmakers not be held to a standard where they are expected to consider the evidence?

The National Research Council advice to lawmakers is that “the available evidence does not give strong support for the use of test-based incentives to improve education” … and recommends that “continued experimentation with test-based incentives should not displace investment in the development of other aspects of the education system that are important…”

Outcome-based education reform theory is the foundation of No Child Left Behind. Investment in testing went up, opportunity was limited, evidence was collected, and this experiment should officially be ended.

∞ ∞ ∞

UPDATE 2/17/16: No Child Left Behind was replaced with The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on 12/10/15. ESSA continues to have the outcome-based education reform theory as its foundation.

Fixing the National Accountability System: Based on Fact?

Part 3: Is the Marc Tucker Plan “a Fact-Based way forward”?

“Fact” according to Tucker: One of the most important conditions necessary to provide for professionals “is the design of the accountability system.” ?????? Who knew?

From my perspective as a professional, I never knew I needed to be concerned about an “accountability system.” And as many know, “In Finland, that word isn’t part of the education lexicon.”

But Mr. Tucker is an acknowledged “systems thinker” and an international expert whose opinion holds weight in D.C.. Surely he knows the truth about the country that has led the world in reforming their education system.

“The two most important factors explaining the success of the Finnish education system are: education has been a national priority for decades, and the system operates on trust.”

Truth is, the public trust in the U.S. public education system has been systematically eroded by political agendas and the propaganda to match it.

But on to another Tucker fact which actually has a broad base of agreement: The test-based accountability system
 we have in the United States—resulted in “very low teacher morale” and “has narrowed the curriculum for millions of students to a handful of subjects…” Tucker even went on to say:

“If we want broad improvement in student performance and we want to close the gap between disadvantaged students and the majority of our
students, then we will abandon test-based accountability and teacher evaluation as key drivers of our education reform program.”

It is great those facts were acknowledged, but the Tucker Plan DOES NOT abandon test-based accountability at all. It promises “tests would be much higher quality tests”… “And these high quality tests would cover the whole
 core curriculum, so subjects like history, literature, science, social studies, music and the arts would not be slighted.”

…Would not be slighted from being tested???!?!… This is “fixing” the problem?

More “facts” according to Mr. Tucker:

“When the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now called No Child left Behind] was first passed in 1965, the Congress assumed that, if they voted additional money that could only be used to aid in the education of poor and minority students, educators would know how to use that money effectively and the result would be improved student performance. ….In other words, if the students were not learning, the fault lay in the background of the students, not in any lack of competence or commitment in their teachers, and if more funds could be provided to teachers to cope with the students’ cultural disadvantages, then they would learn.”

Having studied the 1965 ESEA in much detail with information from a variety of sources, I can say this with certainty – NOT TRUE!

Tucker misrepresents the original law and then goes on to blame Congress for being mad about a lack of results when he says himself – in this paper – “data showed that the ESEA had indeed led to major gains for disadvantaged students.” (Koretz, Dan. “Educational Achievement: Explanations and Implications of Recent Trends”, Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office, August 1987)

Real facts about ESEA: The money did not go directly to teachers for them to spend as they saw fit. And the money was not only for “poor and minority” students. It was to address the needs of low-income students knowing that they tend to be concentrated in poorer communities, poorer states, and tended to be minority students.

There were five interconnected pieces supported through federal funding to the county and involved agencies:

  • Title I – financial assistance to local education agencies (schools) in support of children from low-income families,
  • Title 2 – money for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials to provide access for all students in the State,
  •  Title 3 – supplementary educational centers and services to be made available to the entire community to provide services not currently offered in underserved areas but deemed vital to having kids ready to learn,
  •  Title 4 – The Cooperative Research Act to support educational research and training targeted at improving the quality of teaching, counseling, advising, and parental and community engagement practices to improve student achievement, and dissemination of that information,
  • Title 5 – State Departments of Education funding through this title is “to stimulate and assist in strengthening the leadership resources of State educational agencies” to assist states in identifying “educational problems, issues, and needs in the State.

(More details available here)

If Congress was led to believe that money went to teachers to use as they wished and it didn’t “work,” then the policy advisers in D.C. were ignorant or disingenuous and the history of the law distorted beyond recognition or understanding. I’m truly surprised that Mr. Tucker doesn’t know the history of ESEA any better than what he stated in this newest diatribe of his. His rendition was simplistic and erroneous.

So this topic of “national accountability” comes back to the fact that there is no reason for a test-based national/federal education accountability law. That is not what ESEA was – and in my humble and unheard opinion, nor should it ever be. We need to do away with the very idea that we can hold students and teachers “accountable” through high-stakes standardized testing dictated from above…..but let’s continue considering “facts.”

Another “FACT” as stated by Tucker is that;

education is a monopoly, so we need other ways of ensuring that the people delivering the service have strong incentives to work hard and deliver high quality at a reasonable cost.”

Monopoly means “the exclusive possession or control of something.” Who has had exclusive control over public education? There has never been a single person or entity possessing “exclusive control.” There are multiple “controllers”; some good, some bad. But public education has never been a true monopoly. The word “monopoly” has been used as a propaganda tool.

davekoller.com

davekoller.com

Currently, it is the powerful and their lobbyists that are controlling education policy.

And we are coming dangerously close to allowing the public education system to be controlled by a handful of individuals — a private monopoly by way of the international giant in education, Pearson Inc. with their cozy relationship to Mr. Tucker.

At this point, I’d like to know a fact or two myself (but I’m not really expecting answers); who made Marc Tucker King of Education Reform? How many share the throne with him? And why would we allow a non-representative of the People to direct education policy?

That is “Education without Representation.”

In a system that should operate on trust, we should NOT give power to the untrustworthy. All of those who have pushed the test-based accountability scheme should be dethroned.

To move forward based on facts, truth requires that we abandon our test-based federal accountability system, NOT fix it.

THE END

Fixing Our National Accountability System: Part 1

The latest Marc Tucker publication from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) is titled “Fixing Our National Accountability System.” I have so many issues with the title alone that it didn’t take long to decide that my responses would obviously require more than one blog.

First the words “Our National.” National means affecting the nation as a whole.

That IS the problem with our current U.S. education accountability law – No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That law put in place a test-based system that affected the whole nation in a negative way – no doubt about it.

Did it then go further and become a “federal” accountability mechanism? “Federal” means a union of states in which members agree to designate a central authority. Did NCLB do that? You bet it did! Our congressmen and women acted – and gave authority to the U.S. Department of Education to execute their law. NCLB is the federal education law of the land controlling the use of high-stakes standardized tests for “accountability” purposes.

And what about the word “accountability.” Mr. Tucker chose to use this definition; “Accountability: The obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform.”

According to Mr. Tucker, “both Democrats and Republicans were angry with the nations teachers.” That’s how we got NCLB? That was America’s plan?

Teachers were always the target? I don’t think so; there is a much bigger target in “the plan” – but back to defining what Tucker is now talking about (or skirting around).

“Bear the consequences for failure”? To that I’d say, “you first Congress.” Congress should have corrected NCLB in 2007. Congress failed to perform. And it isn’t like there was a shortage of good suggestions that they were urged to act upon – since 2005.

And Mr. Tucker and his entourage have been pulling the strings for years by urging America to make a choice and threatening that it is tough choices or tough times. Consequences? There never will be consequences for all the big thinkers, planners, and propagandists. No responsibility; no consequences; no accountability.

"Mad Woman" found at http://fiftyfourandahalf.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mad-woman.jpg and in homes across the country!

“Mad Woman” found at http://fiftyfourandahalf.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mad-woman.jpg and in homes across the country!

As far as blogging about “Fixing” this mess created by Congress and the real movers and shakers in D.C., well, it will have to keep for another day. The steam coming out of my ears is fogging up my glasses.

New Testing Makes No Sense

Two “Super Supers” came to Idaho to bring us their wisdom. It is always good to listen to the voices of experience; it helps clarify things. It certainly threw light on some issues for me.

Dr. David P. Driscoll (MA) and Dr. Eric Smith (FL) were brought to Idaho by the Albertson Foundation, which has been financially supporting standards development in Idaho since 1997.

In describing their visit here, the Supers indicated that they were given some of our state data to review. It showed a couple of things that many across the country have known for years; we have a lack of consistency in the quality of our schools and those schools that show up on the bottom of the performance pile tend to do so repeatedly. This we have known.

These experts came to their conclusions by reviewing the data they were given.

Meanwhile, some of us have lived the reality, shouted it from the rooftops, and been brushed aside — because our observations were anecdotal, we can’t do our own research, attempt to draw logical conclusions from data, or we didn’t graduate from the right colleges? (I have no idea what the answer to that question is but Harvard was mentioned more than a couple of times during the evening.)

Anyway, now because of The Common Core …

“You will see for the first time in history, millions and millions being tested on the same level,Driscoll said. “We will have strong standards and strong assessments and finally we’ll know what we need to work on.”

… O.K., so here is the point where I revert to my upbringing and talk straight.

Dude, you just said we had the data to pinpoint the problem schools, why do you need another set of standards and another new test to point at the same old schools that were already identified? We already knew! This is EXACTLY what we did when we started with this whole standards-based accountability scheme that became the No Child Left Behind disaster.

“We” (as in we observant people) never NEEDED to prove it again. I walked away from this mess before – briefly around 2001 – by giving into the idea that “well, if ‘they’ must prove it one more time, one more way, well…O.K.”

But not again! NO. STOP.

Listen to ALL the Reasons Why.

Listen to ALL the Reasons Why.

The principles, policies, and practices we have right now were created by the very same people now saying that this time they have it “right.” How can they?

Those still pushing the standards and assessment theory of reform aren’t making sense. They say The Common Core should be used to compare to other states. Why? We already can compare, contrast, and deduce which schools need help….S.O.S. Send help.

Dr. Smith did give mention to Ronald Edmonds work. I’d advice he listens to himself and to Edmonds original research. Edmonds noted that schools he investigated — which were high-poverty, high-“minority” schools that had successfully improved beyond “expectations” — all saw the local school as the focus of analysis and intervention.

Given the tools and the chance, we local yokels can pull on our boots and “kick” … We need to start by kicking some you-know-what out of the way!

The “experts” got it wrong.

P.S. Mr. Rodgers got it right.

Reformer, or Transformer?

To transform means to change the appearance, character of, or function of.  To reform means to make better. Now, what ARE we doing to our education system?

I saw problems in my local schools and I offered solutions. Is there a high poverty rate in my area? Yes, now 83% free & reduced lunch children. Could the solutions not be accomplished because of poverty? No. And let me give you an example.

When we were in the process of expanding into a brand new school building, our district was going to have empty classrooms. Having helped in first grade classes with 28 students and seen the behavioral distractions that then led to decreased instructional time, decreased personalized attention, and the creation of at-risk students — I didn’t give a damn what research said or didn’t say — it makes good sense to start kids off on the right foot! Race of life and all that, ya know?

So, I did my math and brought a proposal to the school board to decrease only first grade class size; not as an experiment, but because it was the right thing to do at the right time. Before this, limited facilities had always been the excuse for the crowded classrooms. Could we not afford to do it? No, we could at the time. “We” just chose not to. Proposal rejected; no explanation.

Enter what Diane Ravitch in Reign of Error called the “’reform’ agenda including high-stakes testing, test-based accountability, competition, and school choice.” Did these efforts make the public education system better? NO – they are not reforms. Did they change the appearance of the system? YES – it appears more dysfunctional than ever. Did they change the character of schools? YES – much more test-based. Did they change the function of the system? Let me answer using Ravitch’s words here: “What began as a movement for testing and accountability has turned into a privatization movement.” The function of policies and practices did change.

The people pushing the privatization movement are transformers, transforming public institutions into private profits.

I am a reformer. They have not earned the right nor deserve the privilege to wear that label. Reformers work to make things better, not destroy them.

Call them what they are - TRANSFORMERS.

Call them what they are – TRANSFORMERS.

 

Transformational change is not the change we need. STOP the Dismantling of the PUBLIC SYSTEM so we may begin to make things better.

Understand what reform is and is not.

Same Song: Different Dance

This go-around — with test-based education and standardization of instruction — is much riskier than the last one that we call No Child Left Behind. It’s the same song with a more intense dance. Here’s what I mean…

Follow the "leader"?

Follow the “leader”?

Last night, I attended a school board meeting and I’d sum it up by saying “We are here!” We have officially created an education system that picks winners and losers based on the numbers!...1,2,3…1,2,3…bow down.

In this dance, my district is a step ahead in that we employ a person that helped develop the new “STAR” accountability mechanism that replaces the No Child Left Behind “AYP” accounting. So, we know before the dance starts what numbers are likely to come up — what has been chosen to be weighted in “value” — what the administration (& board & public) believes to be a judge of the quality of their work.

This time, unlike a decade and a half ago, the dance begins with parents and the public celebrating test scores as if that is the goal of education — oh, but it is. Everything from “accountability” to scholarships is now based on the scores. We are here! What now?

Next, we look to move forward to the next step in the dance. So with our new-found insight and “recession-forced” austerity measures, we will offer elementary age summer school only to Title I Migrant children. The other Title I children and any middle-income students that need help…sorry, you don’t get the opportunity to dance this go-around. Your number isn’t up. In the bigger picture of “accountability,” you don’t matter – statistically.

Also in the new “STAR” system, we will be counting the number of students that pass advanced placement tests. So, the school board approved money to start prepping them as sophomores — the chosen 40 that is. That should be enough to satisfy the new accountability measures.

And of course, we do have money to complete work on upgrading all our technology and getting our collected student data sent into the state collection system (see how that will “work”) because thus far they have done such a bang-up job!

Is this dance risky? Could the country be hurt, tripped up by the “accountability” dance that began so long ago?

The pied piper of test-based accountability has played a powerful tune. Boogie on America and you will soon be doing the same steps as the Chinese parents do; it’s the pressure-cooker hustle. Push those babies so they won’t be left behind. Winners?

What Failed?

A Mind is Too Beautiful to Waste

A Mind is Too Beautiful to Waste

The beliefs — test-based accountability, financial flexibility, and “choice” — the principles, the pillars, upon which No Child Left Behind (NCLB) promised “to close the achievement gap” have FAILED. The theory was hailed by state education officialdom prior to NCLB. So all-in-all, this grand experiment concocted by those unwilling to listen to people in the trenches had decades to “work” to “close the achievement gap.” It failed; it’s a FACT!

People across America are waking up to the reality that testing itself is wasting instructional time and our money. Parents are seeing that test-based accountability led to a narrow and boring curriculum for their children. It is one of the reasons many left the traditional public system to home-school. Many are also using the “choice” part of this failed equation. But the reality is that “choice-based reform” has not led to reform. And it must be remembered that test-based accountability was used to declare schools as failed thus trumpeting the need for “choice” through a charter system. Failed and double failed!

But what of flexibility? Ah, that began as a token gesture of local control. Giving the local people the ability to spend Title I (federal education dollars for low-income students) in a manner they saw fit was actually part of the original 1965 law. But back then it was understood that the money would be directed to serve the needs of those low-income students. When the states became convinced that test-based accountability was the way to go, the stage was set for federal dollars to be spent on this new focus. The public was duped and double duped.

It is time to view education differently – accountability, flexibility, and choice have failed to deliver on what it promised. And in the process, it did damage. Face that fact. Riding on accountability, flexibility, and choice as reform strategies is like riding a dead horse. Have a little respect. Dismount and bury it!