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A longer version of this post appears in The Huffington Post.

Webster’s dictionary defines “accountability” as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” In a recent piece in The Huffington Post, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond redefined the word accountability to essentially mean its opposite: avoiding responsibility for academic underperformance.

In doing so, they illustrate perfectly why the education debate in America has become so polarized and so useless. … In essence, Weingarten and Darling-Hammond are saying that public education doesn’t need accountability that sets meaningful expectations and requires consequences when we fall short. Instead, schools just need more resources, more support, and more time.

We, too, have argued for more resources and support — and, sometimes, for more time for schools to get this right. But all of us need to remember the students who don’t have any time to spare. Delaying and retreating from real accountability will result in only one outcome: denying children the education they need and deserve today.

Russlynn Ali, managing director of The Emerson Collective and former assistant secretary for civil rights, co-authored this post.

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