Education Empowerment

The Accountability Question

Less than half of Utah’s students perform proficiently on end-of-level tests in Utah using data from the 2018-19 school year. For those paying attention, that is the year before the school closures of 2020.

I argued earlier this year that the test is the problem and has no bearing on future outcomes for students. Yet, many opponents to the Utah Fits All Scholarship argue that we need accountability for this program. 

In a recent op-ed, Deborah Gatrell argued against education choice programs, handpicking two studies on the worst-performing programs in Louisiana and Wisconsin. She ignored the twenty-five other studies that show education choice programs improve outcomes for students in the education choice program as well as students who stay in the public school system.

Her solution: “Let’s throw money at the problems…” The President of Utah’s largest teachers’ union says that we need to fully fund public schools. But neither of these two define how much money that will be. Instead, we should allow parents to choose how their education dollars are spent. 

Currently, Utah schools receive over seven billion dollars for education. The Utah Fits All Scholarship is a little over forty million dollars. It is less than one percent of the total funds available to public schools. Yet, to the five thousand students it will serve, it could be a game changer. 

So what is the right kind of accountability? 

Parents having the right information to choose the best education for their child is the right accountability. 

Education choice policies are often derided for this type of accountability. But the education and successful outcomes for each child are, of necessity, different. Why? Because each child is different. Parents know their children best. They know when their child is succeeding and when their child is struggling.

Teachers then become providers. They craft and create an education that they believe is beneficial and try to attract students. Some will love what that teacher creates, while others will want something different. 

The question then becomes, who gets to decide what is a quality education? Who gets to decide that one educational option is better than the next? This is the very reason grocery stores carry a variety of sodas. Some customers prefer Pepsi while others like Coke. The choice brings the opportunity for satisfaction to all customers.

Parents and students should be the ones who decide which educational fit is the best. When they are given this choice, parents and students are more satisfied with their education. There is an ever-increasing demand from parents to be given a choice in how their child is educated.