Greg in PJM

Greg has an excellent piece today in Pajamas Media:  “The Empty Promises on School Vouchers”

The money quote: “If evidence were going to decide the voucher debate, there wouldn’t be a debate any more. And in fact, we were repeatedly promised that evidence would decide the debate. The president, his education secretary, the head of the Senate subcommittee overseeing the program, and a host of others all promised that they would evaluate vouchers guided solely by evidence… The rest of the country is watching. If the politicians in Congress prove that they can get away with destroying the lives of 1,700 children while suppressing vital information showing that the program works, all in order to please their home-state unions, that sends a message to fifty statehouses. Conversely, if the word gets out about what’s happening and the program is restored, that sends the opposite message.”

And let’s be clear — “suppressing vital information” does not require that Arne Duncan knew of the positive results and delayed release.  We know that the information was suppressed because 1) others in the Department of Ed, even if not Duncan, certainly knew of these results while Congress was debating killing the program and never bothered to alert anyone; 2) the study was released on a Friday afternoon when it would receive as little attention as possible — and that is something for which Duncan is clearly responsible; and 3) Duncan immediately applied a false negative spin and expressed his desire to end the program despite earlier commitments to be guided by evidence and not predispositions or ideology.

3 Responses to Greg in PJM

  1. Alex says:

    The DC voucher studies showed only modest gains for reading and none at all for math, other subjects, drop-out rate,etc. Dr.Greene, if you really wanted to help the poor children of DC, why are you pushing for vouchers at the same time you are pushing as your fellow conservatives are doing for high-stakes testing in these schools so as to supposedly help these schools improve? I think that you know that these tests will cause the schools to tumble because you and other right-wing thinkers don’t like public education in the first place. The DC voucher program is also flawed because not every child in DC can get them.
    If most parents in this country wanted “choice”, then why is it that most DON’T send their kids to private schools? Most are satisfied with their public schools and don’t want to pay for their kids education directly and they shouldn’t have to. There are real problems to be solved in the public schools, but that’s no excuse for running away from those problems by using vouchers or other “school choice” proposals as you and other conservative thinkers advocate. For someone who claims to be an impartial observer of educational issues as you do and yet be a member of a right-wing think tank (the Manhattan Institute), that indicates to me a huge bias in your reporting which I’ve seen in your postings here and in your book Education Myths. I shouldn’t have to remind you that you yourself work at a public school, the University of Arkansas. I noticed in you book, Education Myths, that a lot of the studies that you cite came from right-wing think tanks like the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, etc. I also noticed that every person who endorsed your book was a conservative(President Bush’s brother Jeb, Chester Finn, Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Insitution, Paul Peterson(who along with you failed to control for family background and used a small sample size in attempting to rebut the “failed” Milwaukee study a few years back), Terry Moe, James Q. Wilson). The real problems of public education won’t be solved by using the same tired rhetoric of “school choice” as you and other coonservative thinkers advocate. I plan on teaching in the public schools in the inner city and I find your views regarding testing and vouchers disgusting and hypocritical. If most parents in this country wanted to send their kids to private schools, then why aren’t they? I tell you. They(including the wealthy I might add) don’t because the public schools for the most part are just fine. The problems to be fixed are structural and treatable(lack of teachers at many schools, supply shortages, lack of site mantinence, etc). The use of standardized tests must also end because teaching itself has been distorted, which leads to the predictable results you and other right-wing thinkers then point to in order to give yourselves an excuse to privatize and use vouchers to achieve this despicable end. I think that the DC kids deserve better PUBLIC schools, not discriminatory free-market diploma mills.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Alex, your treatment of serious issues is cursory, your understanding of the policies is flawed, your characterization of the empirical research is inaccurate, and your determination to demonize your opponents personally rather than stick to the issues is unhelpful.

      However, there is one thing on which we can agree: “The DC voucher program is also flawed because not every child in DC can get them.”

      Amen! Thanks for making that very important point. 🙂

  2. Alex says:

    Mr. Forster, I didn’t “demonize” Dr. Greene at all. I simply wrote what I saw in his writings on this site and in his book. I have every right to do so. You presumably finger the “liberal” establishment and the “educationists” whenever a program you support doesn’t work, so why do you find me simply throwing back your own rhetoric at you so troubling(I might add that my criticisms are indeed accurate unlike yours). I’d like to hear from Dr. Greene himself on this issue. I went to both public and private schools and I can tell you that while there were problems at both, the people at the public schools were nicer than those at the private schools. I come from a low-income family and I never benefitted from these voucher programs at all. When I attended private school, I was always picked on, laughed at, and made fun of because I wasn’t as rich as the kids at these private schools were. I don’t recall be treated the same way at the public schools. I was on scholarship and work study at the private schools and I had to go through numerous academic difficulties such as having the teachers rountinely cheat me on credit for the classroom work I did and parents of other kids attacking me and my family personally because I was a statewide academic champion in an academic competition that I went to the state level in for seven years in a row. I don’t buy into the myth of “school choice” at all. I know from personal experience that private schools, even the ones in the city, are full of snobs. That’s why they’re private. Public schools are there for all and teachers are supposed to teach everyone,no matter what the economic cirumstances that a child comes from. I mostly don’t regard “research” anyway because anybody can “prove” anything with it. I rely on personal experience and logical arguments when I read about these educational issues. I know that you’ll respond by saying that I’m just “ungrateful” and “ignorant”. Well, here’s a thought experiment for you:What if every child in America tomorrow got one of these vouchers;what would the conservatives reaction be? They’d say,”Oh, these many poor kids shouldn’t be in these schools. They’re just clogging up the space for the “good” kids.” Whenever I hear someone such as John Chubb say “The problem with public schools is that they must take in whoever comes in the door”, I remember how I was and continue to be treated by the rich and how “school choice” is hurting our educational system.

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