Public Education's No. 1 Problem: Lack of Accountability
Byline: Douglas Vaughan
A fundamental truth about public education in Oregon, including the state's universities, is that the emperor has no clothes.
The United States is ranked 16th in a comparison of global education. Test scores from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment show that out of 34 countries, the United States ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math globally.
Yet, spending per student remains higher in the United States than in other counties.
Most shocking is that this year's 15th annual edition of "Quality Counts" from Education Weekly ranks Oregon 42nd out 50 states and the District of Columbia. In two specific areas Oregon received failing grades. One of Oregon's F grades was for a lack of accountability. The National Assessment of Educational Progress used the word "awful" to describe the lack of achievements of Oregon public education compared to other states.
Unbelievable, you may say - especially if you had attended Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy's education forum last December. Raves about Eugene schools as being "top notch" and offering "world-class education" were sung by elected officials and political lobbyists to teachers' union and school board members. But facts speak otherwise.
From academic achievement to school funding and its use, Oregonians can no longer afford to ignore the destructive realities of half truths and lies. Public education in Oregon should be called out for what it is - an embarrassment!
For example, the Eugene School District does not have a funding crisis, as some in the public eye would hope to have citizens believe. Accountability is truly the No. 1 crisis facing public education today. Responsibilities for oversight of academic achievement and accountable management of resources in the name of the public trust are simply not being met.
The Civic Stadium debacle is a prime example of the continuing mismanagement of public resources. Another is this year's University of Oregon's salary increases, in defiance of common sense.
Still another stumbling block for accountability is the political shell game so skillfully managed under so-called grass-root organizations such as Stand for Children and Strong for Schools. …