I was recently quoted in The 74 on the Espinoza decision: “My hope is that policymakers are able to apply the lessons learned from past forms of school accountability to inform the next generation of accountability, which, in a post-Espinoza world, will need to address both public and non-public schools.”
My reaction to the Espinoza decision in Ahead of the Heard: The majority opinion in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue from Chief Justice Roberts could not be more clear: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.” With this ruling, “Blaine Amendments” in state constitutions were essentially repealed. It’s an unequivocal victory for school choice advocates on the question of who can operate a school with public funding, decidedly in favor of a pluralistic approach.
The COVID-19 pandeimc is disrupting our entire system of K-12 education, including assessment and accountabilty. I contributed to a new series of briefs from Bellwether that examine the past and present of school accountabilty to help inform their next interation: As a global pandemic interrupted purposefully designed systems of testing and accountability, we are left with critical questions: How does the underlying theory of standards-based accountability and its foundational goals of equity and transparency hold up decades later?
School system leaders have a lot on their plate right now. I argue that they should resist the temptation to make every decision from the central office and to leverage the expertise of educators and other front-line employees: We won’t know the full impact of the choices school leaders are making for quite some time, but some school systems may be better positioned than others to navigate the challenges posed by the current pandemic.
We don’t know what the total impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will look like. What we do know is that our economy, communities, families, and lives are disrupted in ways they haven’t been for a century — including schools. As I write this blog on March 30, school systems in 47 states have closed their doors to students, with the remaining three states of Iowa, Maine, and Nebraska opting to allow closure decisions to be made at the district level.