People listen to leaders. Whether we’re talking about true leaders or people considered leaders because of status or authority, their words impact culture. Over the last several years of the “reform” movement, words like “accountability” “data-driven” “student achievement” “rigorous curriculum” and “college and career ready” are used frequently in many districts. By themselves, these words and phrases may not be particularly offensive but over time, combined with countless new initiatives send a sometimes subtle and sometimes overt message to teachers and students.
Working in districts where these terms are embedded into the culture, I’ve often had leaders defend these terms by saying they aren’t meant to oppress anyone but can be seen as empowering. I don’t usually buy that. Here’s why.
Accountability is what’s used when relationships and trust haven’t been fostered. I realize in many large organizations, this is challenging and being accountable to someone isn’t necessarily negative but it’s a word that’s very authoritarian and suggests there’s a problem. As Sahlsberg suggests, we should replace “accountability” with “responsibility”. It makes a big difference. You can read more about my thoughts on accountability if you wish.
My issue here is that “data” is usually synonymous … Read the rest