The Fordham Accountability Study


(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So I have been off in Miami for a couple of days and return to find Greg and Jay busting on the new Fordham report on school voucher accountability. My take is different.

Let me preface my remarks by saying I haven’t read the final report, but rather an almost final report.

So, if you recall the only Star Trek the Next Generation movie worth watching, there is a great scene where the crew try to convice Captain Picard that the Borg have captured the ship, and that they ought to abandon it and set the auto destruct.

Picard, consumed with hatred for the Borg, refuses to do so. “The Line Must be Drawn HERE! This far, no farther!” Picard bellows with rage.

We get that reaction from many people when the subject of accountability for private schools participating in choice programs comes up. I agree that there are lines that ought not to be crossed, most obviously, forcing private schools to take state exams. Otherwise, you slide down the path to homogenized private schools on the French Catholic model, which can essentially only be distinguished from public schools by a religion class or two. Lines must be drawn- this far and no farther.

The appropriate line, however, is not at zero transparency.

Going into the reasons why I belive this is the case is a longer post than I can write at this time. I believe it is our interests as school choice supporters to embrace a reasonable level of financial and academic transparency in choice programs.

Further, I believe that what the Fordham Foundation has published (at least the draft I saw) developed a very reasonable approach.

More later…

7 Responses to The Fordham Accountability Study

  1. Greg Forster says:

    Zero transparency? That’s really unfair. Nobody advocates that.

    When you write your follow-up, please listen to Captain Picard’s advice and try to “engage” with the real argument rather than a straw man.

    You can start by reading this.

  2. Patrick says:

    Matt do you stay up late at night thinking up movie and pop culture references for your next education blog? LoL

  3. matthewladner says:


    There are many people who want zero transparency, or something close to it, but I was not making any accusation that you were one of them.

    I can’t see anything wrong with Fordham putting an accountability proposal on the table, and even in interviewing a group of people to inform the creation of the proposal. I don’t think that these sort of things much lend themselves to a regression analysis after all.

    You can of course disagree with where they came down on things, but from your post and Jay’s I can’t really tell what you think about the substantive issue involved.

  4. jay greene says:

    My post was entirely about methodology, not the substantive question of what regulation is desirable.

  5. matthewladner says:


    I understand, and agree that this methodology is easily misused and manipulated. I view the study as an opinion piece, not as anything scientific.

  6. jay greene says:

    Then why doesn’t Fordham (or CEP) just write position papers and dispense with surveying selected experts? This is especially an issue with the new Fordham report because their recommendations are almost entirely unconnected from the survey.

  7. matthewladner says:


    I don’t know whether the survey results helped to inform their thinking or not.

    Since the subject at hand is more a question of art than science, the method seems harmless in this case.

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