Thursday, September 01, 2005

Do you have your bullshit detectors on?

I hope so. Because this article from the American Spectator about vouchers is full of it.

For the first time, Republicans are pushing vouchers into the burbs and the American Spectator is so excited that they're practically wetting themselves. But in the midst of an exuberant article on the expansion of the Ohio vouchers statewide are several keys to understanding the ridiculous spin and unexamined assumptions of the conservative case for vouchers.

First, the ridiculous spin:

Universities and think tanks report academic results ranging from no change to improved test scores, both for voucher students and for their public school peers in Milwaukee and Cleveland. "It doesn't make sense to me to call these mixed results," said the Manhattan Institute's Jay Greene. "If study findings range from zero to positive, that's positive." No academic study has found that choice programs harm student performance.

What Greene conveniently fails to mention is that the private schools in the voucher program do not have to accept any student they don't want. Most of them have no special education students, for example. The public schools have no choice. They must, by federal law, accept anybody that shows up at their doors -- no exceptions. With that fact in mind, Green's "positive results" don't look so positive anymore.

Further, most results show no improvement at all. The few that do show improvement in private voucher schools typically show a 1.5% increase in one subject area, no increase in another. Thus, the "mixed results" of which Greene is so dismissive.

The bottom line: So far, voucher schools, despite the right of refusal they have that public schools do not, have showed barely any improvement at all.

Then, there's the unexamined assumptions, which we will now examine:

THOUSANDS OF SUBURBAN OHIOANS will choose their schools this fall, and they have reason to welcome the opportunity. A list of the state's struggling schools belies the myth that only urban schools fail. According to the Ohio Department of Education, 60 of its 88 counties have at least one school in "academic emergency."

What constitutes "academic emergency?" Usually, it's failing to meet standards for any subset of students in any subject at any grade level. The fact taht 28 counties have no failing schools is practically miraculous.

One wants to ask these voucher lovers if the private voucher schools will be held to the same standards? After two years of failing any subset in any subject at any grade level, will the voucher schools be shut down? I doubt it.

And, of course, this is a window ino conservative "strategery." Make the standards for being an academically acceptable school or district almost impossible, then run around like a banshee wailing about how bad the schools are. This is the game plan. Don't try to fix public schools. Try to undermine them and turn the whole enterprise -- and the billions of dollars per year -- over to an unregulated market.

Like how the health care system works? Get ready for that in education if the right wing has its way. Like how cable or energy deregulation has worked out so far? If so, you're gonna love the brave new world of education.

The right wing is impervious to fact. They've been spouting their bull shit so long that they've actually come to believe it. That's the scariest part.


Blogger NYC Educator said...

I'm impressed you're even able to read "The American Spectator." I imagine it must be something like Fox News on steroids.

Personally, I don't think I'd be up to it.

6:19 AM  

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