Government Accountability in Education

By Lee Havis

Hearing of bill in Maryland General Assembly to provide for a statewide accountability commission to uncover and remove waste, fraud and corruption in the public school system of Maryland. April 2019

Today, taxpayer funded public education has grown into a large, corrupt business that serves many special interests that have nothing to do with good quality education for the students attending. In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan has been seeking to provide some public accountability for this wasteful and destructive use of public funds, especially
in response to a growing number of citizen complaints in this area.

The Governor noted that public education now consumes over 50% of the state’s capital budget, criticizing the state legislature for its “reckless, irresponsible, and unsustainable” spending that props up this public school system that he said could “devastate Maryland’s
economy”. He therefore urged the legislature to stop its “outrageous pandering to special interest groups” which he sees as a major cause of the problem.

In 2018, the Maryland governor proposed an independent state-level accountability commission to investigate and resolve the widespread fraud, corruption, and mismanagement being reported in the public school system. And, in 2019, he renewed
his appeal for this commission in legislation entitled “Accountability in Education Act of 2019.” Sadly, however, the legislature has rejected this common sense accountability, choosing instead to pile on more irresponsible spending to fuel the public school system at even greater levels than before.

On February 6, 2019, I testified for the International Montessori Society in favor of the Governor’s much-needed accountability commission. In my testimony, I emphasized the
critical importance of state-level accountability instead of local efforts alone which would logically be controlled by the same officials and political leaders responsible for the problem itself.

I also pointed out that a state level commission is only a modest first step to more substantial accountability that is needed to bring real quality and value in education. For example, there must be greater support for parent choice and competition in the free market field of private education. Parents must have alternatives to the public school
monopoly, including Dr. Montessori’s new education which cannot function within the confines of a centralized government system. Indeed, the whole system of public education is falling apart from within due to growing numbers of parents who remove their children from these schools because of increasing violence and a uninspiring state-controlled curriculum that amounts to political indoctrination.

Sadly, however, the legislature rejected the common sense argument for accountability and oversight in public education, choosing instead to initiate more“reckless” and “irresponsible” spending. Ultimately, real accountability in education will only come as parents and taxpayers reject the special interest, corrupt current operation of public
education, and choose instead the path of free market education negotiated directly between the parents and educators involved. This would allow for “new education” schools to function as effective alternatives to the stale government curriculum and instruction of the typical public school.