Jason Bedrick has an excellent post on Education Next rebutting Valerie Strauss’s ridiculous column on Tax Credit Scholarships.
People should keep their eye on Jason. The force is strong with that one.
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I promise to keep my eye on him if he promises not to dress up like a Jedi any more – or, alternatively, to get a costume that isn’t obviously just a bedsheet thrown over his head.
Greg, I don’t make the big bucks like the folks at the Jay P. Greene blog. My three kids got real costumes. For me, a bedsheet had to suffice!
What?!?!? Jay was supposed to be paying us big bucks all these years?
Ummm… the check is in the mail.
I think the costume is awesome.
Chag Purim Sameach.
We are forever grateful for Jason in NH!!!
Funny, I don’t recall an aron kodesh on the Death Star. Perhaps in the director’s cut?
It certainly does sound like a Star Wars character’s name, though.
FYI: Kevin Welner should give himself a Bunkum Award for his response to by rebuttal. My rejoinder to his response is here:
Jason goes back to school:
Philip, perhaps you missed this: http://educationnext.org/rejoinder-to-washington-posts-primer-on-private-school-tax-credits/
Yes, I went back to school… to teach Prof. Welner a few things.
I went to the Forster paper at one of your links, and its filled with unsupported causal conclusions, primarily claiming that “vouchers” are causing higher student achievement, and then drawing the unsubstantiated claim that expanding vouchers will spread that same magic to even more kids.
Despite all sorts of claims about “gold standard” research, Forster doesn’t provide enough details about the studies he cites to allow for any firm conclusions, but the causal claims he attributes to those studies would call into question the analytic ability of the researchers involved. You can do a “gold standard” study proving that fad diets work, if your only criteria for “gold standard” is whether random assignment was used. Trustworthy research is more complex than that, and people should sell fool’s gold as the real thing.
Aside from other studies finding no benefits for vouchers (oddly absent from the Forster paper) the most likely explanation for studies finding a slight advantage for charters is:
1) They didn’t control for all the relevant background variables, and these varied is systemic ways between charter/scholarship schools and publics.
2) The charter/scholarship operator advocate made the charter program sound much better to families than the default public schools, and attracted more motivated and able students and families from the “low-income” population. The charters served only these kids, and pushed out the slower ones from even that group. The publics served the lottery losers plus many less able/motivated students. Thus, the voucher program is merely a mechanism for skimming the cream and serving a more homogeneous population, and may not be “causing” any better student learning for the lottery winners–it’s just choosing a whole cohort of more able/motivated students and families.
3) For public policy purposes (where the point is to serve all kids, not just a few), comparing scores of kids from charters/scholarships with those of comparable publics is simply the wrong level of analysis. Politicians may not know better, and voucher/charter folks might be able to fool them by pretending that this is the relevant comparison, but it isn’t.
As for the $$ issues, in many sectors of the economy–health care, politics, education–the rich and powerful are using “choice” in ways that make society more unequal and that work to their benefit. That’s the big long-term game being played here, and is why the middle class is treading water while the super-rich are walking on air. Our “choice” among health care providers simply means we’ve chosen to pay much more for health care than do single-payer nations with better health outcomes than we do–and the only benefit of that is for shareholders and CEOs who rake in millions.
The private sector does some things better and government does other things better, and educating the masses while holding true to traditional American ideals is one area the government does better.
Phillip, you may have missed this, but this guy didn’t actually address anything I wrote. He attacks Forster’s paper on completely spurious grounds. He doesn’t bother to read the research that Forster cites and he clearly has no idea how random-assignment studies work. If he made a point worth addressing, I’d address it.
[…] Which probably had something to do with prompting attacks against the pro-opportunity policy from the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss. Over at Education Next, the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick effectively shot down her arguments (Yes, school choice does help poor kids) and further rebuffed criticisms from Colorado’s own Kevin Welner. (I’ll stick with the sports analogies, and leave the sci-fi ones to the guys at Jay Greene’s blog.) […]
Superb job in Ed Next! Great to see the momentum for scholarship tax credits continue to grow: http://www.ediswatching.org/2013/03/bama-tax-credit-surprise-status-quo-blindsided-by-win-for-needy-kids/
All will remain well as long as the next sequel doesn’t include the revelation that Jedi Jason is the son of Darth Strauss. And the Jar Jar of ed reform, whoever that may be, must be kept FAR away.
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