Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 8, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1970 'Accountability' In Teaching A tew days attar President Nixon launched the new term, William Carroll, general man- ager of Open Court Publishing Company, LaSalte, HI, said, "Accountability is g o i n g to drive a lot of people up the wall, but maybe that's where they should be if their mater- ials don't work." There is a growing group of publishers and educational hardware dealers willing to make schools a money-back offer M they are not satisfied with materials used. And it seems that 'accountability' has developed from this practice which was encouraged by Leon Lessinger, former U.S. Asoci- ato Commissioner of Educa- tion. If publishers can live with the idea, why can't educators and teachers? Lessinger says, however: "Contractors are generally careful not to promise more than they can deliver, especial- ly if there are incentives and penalties. We have had enough of big causes and smalt deliv- ery." The Dorsett Educational Sys- tems, Norman, Oklahoma, was first to make the money-back offer. Dorsett moved into a run- down school system, Texar- kana, a borderline town be- tween Texas and Arkansas. The company expects to collect per student for each grade level of improvement in reading and mathematics after eighty hours of teaching, using their own machines and special programs. If a student shows no improvement, the company gets no money for that youngster. Open Court Publishing Com- pany, LaSalle, 111., has brought Schools For Reformers, Reactionaries Writer reporter Courtney Tower, using the Hail Dennis Beoort as bible, went to work on" a cross-country picture of Canada's elementary schools as they are, or as he thought he Saw them, or as someone else thought he saw them and told Mr. Tower about them. We'll -never know the real facts, I suppose, but the portrait pre- sented is interesting Ji not dis- turbing at times, and what fol- lows are some points extracted from the article in bhis month's Maclean's Magazine. I do be- lieve everyone should invest the thirty- five cents to buy the magazine and read the account of our elementary schools. The schools area battle- ground between reformers and reactionaries. Mir. Mahlon Beach, year-old publisher of The Free- mason and a ten-year veteran of Toronto school boards terms, the "Hall-Dennis abortion and general bandw agon psychol- ogy" and sex education "a Communist plot" because "in- struction in class leads to prac- tice after class. Pressure groups in Ed- monton stopped sex education In public schools, using such slogans as "teach our children to read, not breed." Other groups in Nova Scotia, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver put muscle behind their mouths and pitch into school activities supervising lessons, taking chil- dren on field trips. Parentu are becoming in- creasingly unhappy with public school education and dent' schools with 'free' curric- ula are springing up, especially in large cities. Students today may still be working hail and hearty in the year 2025, and because of the speed of change, this is a staggering thought. What do we give them now that they can use then? James Daly, Professor of History, McMasber University, labels the modern effort "pur- ple Leif. Stolee, a supervisor witli the Edmonton Public School Board maintains that "fundamental skills, knowledge amd values are not going out of date in the next generation. Dr. Wilfred Wees, Institute of Studies in Education, On- tario, rates file three r's less than a child's thinking ability, his learning from other chil- dren, the teachers and the world. Good educational programs don't necessarily require costly equipment, but they do demand dedicated and very imaginative teachers. Almost every inch of change and progress depends on the teachers co-operation and enthusiasm. If they are not properly trained and moti- vated, the new program w 111 not work. The child entering school, having viewed hours and hours of television, is considerably hampered by material ridicu- lously dated. Rosedale School in Mon- treal, a forty-year-old building, had its interior walls removed to create open areas for 180 students in grades one, two and three. "When you know what's going on in the school and you School know the teacher as a human being, you don't have tx> worry." states one mother from an area in Toronto where par- ents are encouraged to enter classrooms during the working day. There are two other school articles worth looking at the first on the Toronto French School, and the second on Van- couver's New School which a group of UBC professors and their wives organized last year. (Maclean's Magazine, Septem- ber, 1970) This plan takes its name from Christopher Jcncks, Pro- fessor of Education, Harvard University. It is considered to be the most radical experi- ment of all and the Office of Equal Opportunity appears will- ing to pay any sum just to give it a trial. At present four large cities, San Fransisco, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Hartford, Conn, are giving the plan consideration. The Proposal: 1. The government would foot the bill on a voucher system for each child in the city. 2. Private and public schools would be involved. 3. Parents would select the school they want their child U> Big Business Teachers generally are cau- tious about tile movement o f big business into education. With the flow of motley and profits from the aero-space in- dustries radically reduced, giant companies are lurching around the landscape, desper- ately searching for new pools of money mto which to plunge. With billions ppuring into edu- cation, the temptation is just too great for them. However, Washington leach- ers forced the school board to drop an important part of the incentive program for those teachers directly engaged in the new project. The plan was tied to results and ignored sc- out an entire language arts pro- gram for elementary children writing, communication skills in a single package. The program is ex- pected to go from grade right through to grade six. The company charges the school board less for each month a student falls behind where he ought to be according to stand- ardized tests. January last, Initial Teaching Alphabet Publications, a branch of Pitman Publishing Corporation added a different wrinkle in offers. The company informs new customers-. "If, after a year of using the Early- to-Read I.T.A. program, chil- dren are not learning to read more successfully than with what was previously used, go back to the old materials and get a complete refund for all I.T.A. materials purchased including used books. The risk to companies is not as great as- it seems. They have already put their materi- als through extensive tests and are confident they can perform as advertised. (Scholastic Teacher, March, attend and hand over the voucher.. 4. Poor children would bo given a bonus voucher to make them more attractive to the di- rectors of the better schools. 5. If a school was over sub- scribed, a lottery scheme would handle the matter. G. The aim of the plan is to avoid racial arid social dis- crimination while raising stand- ards at the same time. 7. By" such a method, all schools would be placed on an equal footing in an open mar- ket. "8. It is argued that schools would have to satisfy their cus- tomers or go out of business. (Time Magazine, Aug. 24, In Education niority and degrees. It would have ranked and paid teachers on their ability to teach as measured by the class's pro- gress. A classroom te'achcr might have earned as much as a school principal. Someone did not do enough homework on teacher attitudes, it seems. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Wash- ington, is growing anxious about the proliferation of per- formance contracts. It lias asked tlie giajit computer firm, Rand Corporation to study the implications involved if big business moves into .education in a big way. (Time Magazine, Aug. 24, 1970) More And More 'Accountability' as a term re- fers to school performance. It has been underground for a few years, but began to pop up with increasing frequency last year in the United States. School board after school board, es- pecially in the large city areas, plagued by floundering systems began hearing fee word 'ac- countability' more and more. On March 3, this year, it be- came part of officialdom's vo- cabulary when President Nixon used it. He talked of "another new concept: accountability" in his Message on Education. He went on to say: "School administrators and school teachers alike are re- sponsible for their perfor- mance, and it is in their inter- ests as well as the interest of their pupils that they be held accountable." Accountability depends on cleared lines of communi- cations between parents and ed- ucators. It is a two-way street where great improvements may take place hi the interests of the entire nation. (Ford Foundation Letter. April, 1970) Profit Motive: Watch Dangers Accountability and all it im- plies may help to raise standards of education, but the involvement of huge com- panies, racing for the dollar and with profit ever upper- most, presents possibilities for some really new live dangers in education. 1. Gewgaws, knickknack-; and baubles may be troUecl out as cures. 2. The temptation to produce Highly narrow and specialized schools is very real. 3. Educational hucksters on a fly-by-night basis are only a short step away from being op- erational. 4. The example of Educational Systems. Norman, Oklahoma is nothing to look up to. It was first in the field last year with a contract from Texarkana, the twin city on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Time Magazine reports the company earned or per student enrolled. The firm awarded good students time off, gave away transistor radios, and portable television sets as rewards for outstand- ing progress. Then, Dorsett is reported to have inserted some of the ques- tions used on Uw final tests into exercises taught during the year.