False Claims of Cherry Picking are the Pits

Leo Casey over at Edwize is urging me to join the “United Cherry Pickers” union because he thinks I’ve cherry picked the evidence on vouchers in a previous post.  This sounds like a great deal if my dues, like those from AFT and NEA members, can contribute to paying for skyboxes for Leo and his buddies at the Democratic National Convention to make-up for the convention’s shortfall of $10 million.  Where do I sign up?

Making a charge of cherry picking is easy.  Substantiating it requires, well, uhm, evidence.  Evidence isn’t exactly Leo Casey’s strong-suit.

I said that there have been 10 analyses of random assignment voucher experiments.  I said that 9 of those 10 analyses show significant, positive effects (at least for some subgroups).  If I am cherry picking, which random assignment analyses am I leaving out? 

Leo Casey then asserts: “Serious research conducted by respected scholars without an ideological axe to grind has consistently found every major voucher experiment in the United States wanting. John Witte’s and Cecilia Rouse’s definitive analyses of the Milwaukee voucher program and the Indiana University studies of the Cleveland voucher program have shown no meaningful educational performance advantage for students in those two high profile, large scale voucher programs.”

Neither Witte nor the IU studies analyzed random-assignment experiments, making it harder to have confidence in their results, which is why I focus on the 10 analyses using the gold-standard approach. 

Rouse’s study did examine a random-assignment experiment, but Casey mischaracterizes her findings.  She writes: “I find that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program had faster math score gains than, but similar reading score gains to, the comparison groups. The results appear robust to data imputations and sample attrition, although these deficiencies of the data should be kept in mind when interpreting the results.”   Remember, Casey falsely claims that she finds “no meaningful educational performance advantage for students.”

Casey also mischaracterizes my citation of Belfield and Levin’s findings: “[He even cites research that is not on the subject of vouchers: Hank Levin will be most surprised to learn that his research 'supports' vouchers.]” 

Since I actually bothered to quote Belfied and Levin’s findings about the effects of expanding choice and competition, I don’t think Hank Levin will be the least bit surprised to read what he wrote.  I’ll repeat the quotation here so that no one is shocked: “A sizable majority of these studies report beneficial effects of competition across all outcomes… The above evidence shows reasonably consistent evidence of a link between competition (choice) and education quality. Increased competition and higher educational quality are positively correlated.”

If Leo Casey is going to make the charge of cherry picking and improperly citing evidence, he has to deliver proof of those charges.  To the contrary, the facts indicate that Casey is the one cherry picking and improperly citing research.

Is there a union for playing fast and loose with the truth?  Maybe Leo Casey should join it.  Oh, I forgot.  He’s already a member of the AFT.

(Links added)

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8 Responses to False Claims of Cherry Picking are the Pits

  1. Jay,

    You are incredibly patient with the repetitious Leo doll. It’s the union version of the Ken doll with the pull string on his back.

    You must like to write, because you are waisting your words. All he can do is pull his string and recite a different wording the union dogma.

    Forgive me for my insults, but I am insulted at how he treats the best school choice researcher in the country.

  2. Steve says:

    I have two words for you: Education Myths. That book was a textbook guide to cherry-picking.

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Yes, that’s why we wrote it – to review the whole body of scientific research on each question, in order to demonstrate that reform opponents were cherry picking their “evidence.” I’m glad you found it so helpful – thanks for the compliment!

    Or is that not what you meant? :)

  4. [...] If you are going to enter a debate with Dr. Jay Greene over what the research on school choice says, you had better at least come in fully armed. Leo Casey, the blogger for the American Federation of Teachers, made the accusation that Greene cherry-picks evidence, but he probably wasn’t prepared for this kind of intellectual smackdown: [...]

  5. Patrick says:

    3..2…1…Knockout. If Jay was a boxer he’d be a heavyweight. Sadly, even without his front teeth I’m fraid Mr. Casey can still type.

  6. [...] in the fields of research in search of cherries, so this reply will be quick and to the point. His latest contribution involves textbook examples of research “cherry [...]

  7. [...] Casey accuses voucher supporters of cherry-picking studies that support their positions. Jay Greene responds by listing a series of different studies proving the value of the school choice plans. Greg Forster [...]

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