The Spellings Report: There's No Joy In Margaritaville
A few days ago, a Florida Supreme Court decision threw out that state's voucher program. It didn't take long for Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to indicate her great displeasure with the ruling:
"The Florida Supreme Court's decision is an unfortunate setback for educational accountability and freedom. In a matter of months, it could cause parents to remove their sons and daughters from good schools and, in some cases, return them to underperforming schools. It may also make it more difficult to close the achievement gap, a major priority under the No Child Left Behind Act.Interestingly, the Secretary's press release refers to the decision as a "narrow ruling" even though in fact it was a 5-2 opinion.
"Accountability is only as good as its consequences. Florida's Opportunity Scholarship program holds all schools accountable by turning a monopoly into a marketplace and helping parents become educated consumers. If a public school can't meet the high standards promised by the Florida Constitution, we must work to fix the school, not punish the families, many of them minority or economically disadvantaged, who seek a better alternative."
What Spellings fails to mention is that the ruling does not affect public school choice in any way.
And as always, the Secretary's rhetoric blames schools when things do not go well and never has anything to say about the need for students and parents to also assume responsibility for their own academic success.
Some examples: Only a parent can ensure that a student comes to school rested, prepared to learn, and with completed homework in hand. And only a student can make the choice to put forth an effort to learn the material.
Related: Our earlier post about the court decision.