One of the saddest consequences of the merger of education with partisan politics is that we now no longer can trust pronouncements from many of our state and local departments of education. Instead of accurate data, we are apt to get spin, hype, distortion, and outright lies, all in the service of someone’s political agenda.

One of the worst offenders is the Florida Department of Education. For years, under Jeb Bush and now Rick Scott, the department has been incapable of impartial analysis or self-criticism. Instead, its goal is to parrot the party line of testing, accountability, charters, vouchers, and online learning.

The latest embarrassing public relations stunt from the state DOE is a “study” claiming that charter schools in Florida outperform public schools. This is intended to help the privatization movement–for-profit and nonprofit–get a bigger market share.

The latest “study” was not conducted by independent reputable scholars but by the Department itself. That explains a lot.

Consider that only four months earlier, an independent study concluded the opposite: that public schools perform the same or better than charter schools.

The key finding in that study was:

“The average charter school is doing about the same as the non-charter school when no adjustments are made for poverty and minority statuses. When the adjusted scores are considered, the average charter school performs significantly worse than the average non-charter school.”

An investigation by the Miami Herald determined that most charters do not accept severely disabled students.

Half of the F-rated schools in the state are charters.

Charters were seven times more likely to be rated F than were public schools.

Reputable studies have reached the same conclusions: Charters in Florida perform about the same or worse than public schools.

One study concluded that their achievement growth is lower than that of regular public schools, but that after five years, charters produce similar gains.

The Credo analysis found that Florida charter schools performed significantly less well than their public school peers.