The fourth post in a series, here is the third of ten myths we hear most often:
Myth Number 3: Private schools are unaccountable.
Perhaps the most offensive and flagrantly misleading arguments against school choice programs is that private schools aren’t “accountable.” In Iowa, an education organization or location is not considered a “school” unless it is accredited by the state or an approved national or regional accrediting body.
Starting in 2013, Iowa’s private schools were finally able to be “independently accredited” by reputable third party accrediting agencies. These agencies are the gold standard in accreditation. Around the same time, state accreditation went from a model of on-site visits every five years to a desk audit model. Independent accrediting agencies did not change. Almost every Christian school in the state of Iowa is independently accredited, and have the additional burden (over state accreditation) of continuous improvement standards, regular on-site visits, and the risk of losing their accreditation if they don’t perform. Iowa’s Christian and independent, nonsectarian schools pay to be scrutinized by their accrediting bodies and committees of their peers and are held to a much higher standard than state accreditation. We don’t believe there is anything wrong with state accreditation for public schools or private schools that choose it – it simply isn’t as intense or accountability-laden as accreditations pursued by IACS members and other private schools in the state who choose another agency.
Additionally, and most importantly, Iowa’s private schools are ultimately accountable to parents. Unlike public schools, private schools that underperform or struggle financially close. Parents take their children somewhere else as they vote with their feet. There is no property tax or sales tax safety net. Private schools deliver. When they don’t, they fail. That is the ultimate accountability.
We’ve found that most “accountability measures” foisted on public schools have done little but hamper our public school friends’ ability to educate. We believe there is room to reduce regulation and unnecessary and damaging “accountability” measures on public schools to free up resources and the ability to innovate in public schools. We also believe that it is counter-productive and untenable to over-regulate private schools and that these “accountability” and curriculum mandates quickly bump up against a private school’s constitutional right to operate as a religious school.
Interested in diving into all ten myths? You can read the full article here. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest developments in our effort to ensure every child has access to the educational environment that best meets their needs.