Post-Accountability Accountability

Over the past few decades, parental choice has exploded in the United States. Yet, despite early proponents’ hopes that parental choice would eliminate the need to regulate school quality—since parents’ choices would serve an accountability function—demands to use the law to hold chosen schools accountable for their academic performance are central features of education-reform debates today. This is an opportune time to consider the issue of academic accountability and parental choice. Parental choice has gained a firm foothold in the American educational landscape. As it continues to expand, debates about accountability for chosen schools will only intensify. The questions of whether, when, and how the law ought to regulate the quality of the schools participating in parental-choice programs are important and vexing ones for the law of education. This Article examines these questions and proposes principles to guide regulatory design efforts.