Imagine that a restaurant that you frequented went downhill. What would you do?

My guess is that you’d stop going there. And if enough people did that, the place would fold.

That’s accountability. Or, to put it another way, that’s a powerful incentive for the owner to maintain the quality of the restaurant.

Now, imagine that the public school your children attended went downhill. Sending them somewhere else would be inconvenient at best, probably expensive, and perhaps impossible.

And if you did send them somewhere else, the school district would keep on collecting the same taxes it was collecting before (and, probably, at least as much state aid per pupil).

That’s not a powerful incentive for the school board to maintain the quality of the schools.

And there’s the problem we face in trying to get good performance out of public agencies: Poor performance doesn’t have enough consequences.