I wrote last week about the release of the final research results from Milwaukee’s school choice program. On Sunday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel devoted its entire editorial page to a discussion of those results. Check out the succinct summary of the findings by Patrick Wolf and John Witte.
Also be sure to check out the response from the head of the teachers union, Bob Peterson. His rebuttal consists of noting that many students switch sectors, moving from choice to traditional public schools as well as in the opposite direction. He thinks that this undermines the validity of Wolf and Witte’s graduation rate analysis, but he fails to understand that the researchers used an intention to treat approach that attributes outcomes to students’ original selection of sector regardless of their switching. And on the special education claim he simply reiterates the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) faulty effort to equate the percentage of students who are entitled to accommodations on the state test with the percentage of students who have disabilities.
For more on how DPI under-stated the rate of disabilities in the Milwaukee choice program by between 400% and 900%, check out the new article Wolf, Fleming, and Witte just published in Education Next. It’s not only an excellent piece of research detective work on how DPI arrived at such an erroneous claim, but it is also a useful warning to anyone who thinks that government issued claims provide the authoritative answer on research questions. Government agencies, like DPI, can lie and distort as much or more than any special interest group. They just do it with your tax dollars and in your name.