Reader Chiara Duggan says that study after study shows that charters and vouchers demonstrate that data don’t change their minds. She is right. The charters that get high test scores systematically exclude the most challenging students. Some public schools get higher test scores because they serve affluent districts. The differences between charters, vouchers, and public schools tend to be small if they enroll the same students. But the Status a quo pays large numbers of people to argue that the Status Quo–the destruction of an essential institution of a democratic society–is “working” and has positive effects. When the test scores don’t support their argument, they shift the goal post and claim that the private schools–the charters and vouchers–have higher graduation rates. They take care not to mention attrition rates, which are very high. In the case of Milwaukee, the “independent” evaluators from the Walton-funded University of Arkansas quiet.y acknowledged that 56% of those who started in voucher schools left before graduation.
Oh, data doesn’t matter to ed reformers. It’s a belief system. Private is better than public. You can’t move someone off a belief with numbers.
How many times have you see a voucher study like this over the years? Once a year for two decades? Yet Democrats and Republicans and paid lobbyists and pundits still promote publicly-funded private schools over public schools. Vouchers have expanded every single year in this country under ed reformers. There isn’t a scintilla of evidence that they’re any better than the public schools they undermine and then replace, but it simply doesn’t matter.
“Students attending private schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers in a new statewide program did not score as high overall as public school students on state tests in reading and math, according to data released Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction.”
It doesn’t matter what public schools do; improve, don’t improve, whatever. They are the designated punching bags for the punditry set. It’s knee-jerk at this point. Heck, a lot of people are PAID to bash them. It’s a smart career move.
I think this may inadvertently benefit public school students. As it becomes more and more clear that privately-run schools don’t outscore public schools in any meaningful way, the goalposts will move, and standardized test scores will no longer be the measure. I think it’s already happening. Ed reformers may actually do something that benefits public schools, and deemphasize the lunatic, obsessive fealty to test scores. They’ll do it it only to defend their own schools, but public schools may benefit collaterally.