Earlier this week, The 74 published a special series of maps compiled by Max Eden, all looking at the critical information contained in school climate surveys and mapping out responses to those surveys in the country’s two largest schools districts — New York City and Los Angeles. (Click on the city names to the see the maps, and read more about what Eden says he learned in surveying the safety data). NYC and L.A. are unique in that they making that data public. In his final essay, Eden argues that all districts should do the same.
I always gave my parents one-word answers about school.
Dad: “How was class today?” Me: “Good.” Mom: “What did you learn about?” Me: “Stuff.” They wanted to know as much as yet they could. But I was a boy .... and conversation always moved on to other topics. Still, they asked every single day.
And yet, most districts haven’t even started to ask students and teachers about their schools.
Even now, as system and state leaders attempt to rethink school accountability, most of the conversation hinges on esoteric adjustments to calculations based on standardized tests. There’s a role for all that, but it’s a limited one.
My parents’ insistent inquiries didn’t stem from a burning desire to understand how some state bureaucrats would calculate the collective results from reading and math proficiency tests. What they wanted to know is what every parent wants to know: Does my child feel safe and secure? Are his peers respectful? Does he feel challenged? Do his teachers actually like teaching at his school? What do they think about his class, and the school’s culture?
Nothing would go farther towards real, meaningful educational accountability than districts asking these questions and letting parents, teachers, and principals know the answers.
Max Eden is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the report, School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-16. Follow him on Twitter here.