Would You Want This Man As Your Chief Advocate?

Rocket scientist and wholly-owned subsidiary of the teacher union, Sen. Dick Durbin, makes his best attempt to write a negative op-ed on D.C. vouchers in USA Today this morning.  The unsigned main editorial in the paper endorses D.C. vouchers and Durbin was given the opportunity to articulate the opposing view.

Durbin writes:

“Now, after three years of study, the results of that evaluation are in, and the U.S. Department of Education found: no statistically significant improvement in math scores for any voucher students (boys or girls); no statistically significant improvement in scores for male voucher students; no statistically significant improvement in scores for students transferring from failing schools (the targets of the voucher program), and only a slight improvement in reading scores for female voucher students (equivalent to three months of additional reading proficiency).”

The program also did not produce statistically significant gains for space aliens and did not make voucher students more handsome or grant them super-powers (HT to Matt).  There are many things that the D.C. voucher program did not do or that the rigorous study could not detect with high confidence for small sub-groups of students.

But one thing that the program did do that Durbin somehow fails to mention is raise reading scores significantly in the analysis of all students offered vouchers.  That is, he mentioned almost every tiny sub-group analysis lacking the statistical power to detect significant effects but leaves out the overall effect of the program. 

This selective and misleading reporting of results is obviously disingenuous.  I’m beginning to lean toward the lying end of stupid or lying.

Why would the union’s water-boy make such an obviously misleading and weak argument?  Can’t they find anyone better to do their bidding? 

Unfortunately, the teacher unions may feel like they don’t have to do any better than this.  As long as they offer their supporters some fig leaf for killing a program proven to work, they are going to press forward.  They don’t have to defend their ideas; they just have to have enough brute force to win.  And unfortunately it seems that they believe they have enough brute force.  That’s why they didn’t even bother to show up to the Senate hearings to defend their position.  They don’t care about being right — only about getting what they want.

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