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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.

We're all in this together

Jamie Vollmer puts the school accountability burden squarely where it belongs in this Education Week commentary.

The author and former member of the Iowa Business Roundtable points out that schools are no longer expected to simply prepare students to become successful and responsible.

"Those days are gone," he writes. "Over the years, we have heaped a mountain of academic, social, and medical responsibilities upon our schools. With each new session, legislators from both parties add more to the burden, but they've not added a minute to the school calendar in decades. As a result, the contract has changed. It no longer reads, 'Teach our kids.' It now reads, 'Raise our kids.' "

He points out that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have assigned academic, social and medical responsibilities to schools without adding so much as a minute to the school calendar in decades.

"Instead of blaming the people who work inside our schools, which lets everyone else off the hook, the nation's governors must push for greater public accountability for student success: a shared sense of ownership for local schools, combined with a communitywide willingness to accept partial responsibility for their results," he writes. "To achieve this end, our political leaders must help their constituents understand that their prosperity, security, and general well-being are tied to their ability to come together and remove all the obstacles to student learning, both in and out of school."

The story of Vollmer's transition from public education critic to public ed supporter is one of my favorite, "The Blueberry Story: A teacher gives a businessman a lesson,"

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at