Oklahoma’s Unaccountable Public Schools

What do voters consider most important when it comes to public education? According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Education Association, it’s not money. It’s “accountability.”

Many Oklahomans are under the impression that our public schools are in fact accountable. After all, schools are subject to a dizzying array of laws and regulations—on matters ranging from curriculum and testing to fire drills to administering epinephrine. (Researchers at the 1889 Institute pored over Oklahoma’s school administrative code and found roughly 640 mandates.)

But here’s the thing: “Bureaucratic compliance” is not synonymous with “accountability.” Far from it.

The dictionary definition of “accountable” is basically “answerable.” Webster gives this example: “held her accountable for the damage.”

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