Business leaders, politicians, members of the media, celebrities who have nothing to do with education or schools - they all want to talk about how teachers need to be held accountable for their performance, for their students' performances, for the performance of their schools, even for the economic performance of the nation as a whole.
We're often told that charter schools are just the thing to hold teachers and public schools accountable - in fact, Governor Andrew Cuomo told us this right before the election and Regents Chancellor Tisch stated something similar on the radio a couple of weeks ago.
That's why it was so ironic when the story broke this week that the New York Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department signed off on a charter school with a lead applicant who lied about his credentials and his work experience.
22-year old "Dr." Ted Morris Jr.. the lead applicant for the Greater Works Charter School in Rochester, claimed to have a BA, an MA, a Ph.D and an MSW as well as experience starting three non-profits.
All those claims turned out to be lies.
We still don't know if Morris has even a high school diploma - the online school Morris admitted attending after another lie he told about graduating from Rochester's School Without Walls was exposed as fraudulent still hasn't acknowledged whether Morris actually graduated from it or not.
In any case, this was the perfect "accountability moment" for the charter school movement, a great opportunity for both charter backers and the politicians and political functionaries who support them to show the rest of us that accountability isn't just for public schools and public school teachers, it's for charter schools and charter school staff too.
Instead the politicians and the political functionaries fell all over themselves to pass the buck - Regents Chancellor Tisch blamed NYSED and the local Regents who signed off on Dr. Ted's school application (Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood), the local Regents Brown and Norwood said the paperwork was all fine so how were they to know Morris was a fraud and no one at NYSED could be reached for comment.
Later former Rochester Mayor and current Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy called Dr. Ted's misrepresentation of his credentials and work history a "mistake," minimizing a fraudulent act that, if it were perpetrated by a teacher on her/his teaching application, would subject her/him to loss of job, loss of teaching license and possible legal action by the state.
This was the perfect opportunity for the accountability-meisters to show that accountability is not just for the public schools and public school teachers by taking a strong stand on the Morris fraud, and pull the approval from his Greater Works Charter School, which will continue to open despite the fiasco involving "Dr." Ted and his ever-changing credentials and work history.
At least they could have said, "You know, we're concerned that a guy who lied about his credentials and his work experience somehow got approval for a charter school and we're going to review that application again, as well as the board of trustees Morris got to sign on to it, and we're going to review our charter approval process overall to make sure that every application truly gets a rigorous vetting by NYSED."
But they did neither of those things.
Instead we were told that the Greater Works Charter School will still open, though the lead applicant is now an education professor from Keuka College, not "Dr." Ted (who resigned from the board after the Democrat and Chronicle exposed his lies), nothing was said about the charter approval process overall and all the people responsible for this mess - the local Regents, Regents Chancellor Tisch, NYSED and the Cuomo administration (in the figure of the outgoing lieutenant governor) did their best to pass the buck and make excuses for it all.
None of this is a surprise, of course.
For a long time now, it's been obvious that the charter school shills at the Regents, SED and in the corridors of power are not interested in holding the charter school sector accountable for anything.
As my friend Fake Merryl Tisch said when it was revealed NYSED was using data with a margin of error as high as 27% to grade schools for "college readiness":
Meh. Accountability is for the little people. And also the unionized people. @perdidostschool @Stoptesting15 @JohnKingNYSED
— Fake Merryl Tisch (@FakeMerrylTisch) November 23, 2014