The Democrats’ War on Education Science

“I keep my brain in this pickle jar for safe-keeping.”

It was perfectly predictable but still sad to watch.  The U.S. Senate voted 55-42 yesterday against continuing the DC voucher program.  Among Republicans only Olympia Snowe voted against the program.  Among Democrats (or Independents), Feinstein, Lieberman, Nelson, and Warner voted for the program.

Normally we hear that Republicans are engaging in a war on science — opposing stem cell research, questioning global warming claims, etc…  But judging from the arguments that opponents made in yesterday’s debate, Democrats are also engaged in a war on science, at least a war on education science.  They couldn’t be bothered to fully or accurately reference the U.S. Department of Education’s evaluation of the program that found significant benefits for voucher recipients after 3 years.

Instead, the quality of the opponents’ scientific reasoning was exemplified by Sen. Byron Dorgan of South Dakota.  As you can see in this link to CSPAN coverage (starting around minute 21), he argues that there is no need for vouchers because our public school system is doing a great job.  And we know this because graduates of American public schools were the people who put a man on the moon.  I’m not sure what public school Wernher von Braun attended.

Dorgan goes on to reference the U.S. Department of Ed evaluation, but he leaves out the positive main finding and focuses only on a sub-group analysis of students who came from very low performing public schools.  The point estimate for that sub-group analysis is positive but the sample is small and so the effect is not statistically significant.

I know I’m using big words that may be a little hard for the likes of Sen. Dorgan to grasp, but the blatant disregard for scientific evaluations of government programs demonstrated by Dorgan, Durbin and the rest of the program opponents shows that they are the ones engaging in a war on science.

UPDATE — Maybe my brain has been picked because Dorgan is from ND, not SD.  Oops.

(corrected for typos)

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7 Responses to The Democrats’ War on Education Science

  1. […] P. Greene, professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, writes on the recent vote to end DC Vouchers: It was perfectly predictable but still sad to watch. The U.S. Senate voted 55-42 yesterday against […]

  2. MOMwithAbrain says:

    Conservatives never opposed stem cell research, they opposed EMBRYONIC stem cell research. If you look at where the real science in finding cures for diseases lie, it’s NOT in EMBRYONIC stem cell research, but in the adult cells. They were right on that one.

    Global warming was never and exact science. Now that we know that the UN paid scientists at the IPCC cooked the books on global warming, we should be grateful to the voices of reason who kept questioning the global warming activists.

    True school choice works well in countries that have it. It allows me to use MY tax dollars on MY children the way I want to. Only the US Govt refuses parents their right to use THEIR money on THEIR children the way they want to.

  3. Patrick says:

    I actually think the debate was on government subsidies of embryonic stem cell research not that anyone was doing the research. I could be wrong, but that was my take of the debate.

    I do think conservatives have been wrong about global warming. The earth has warmed and with our ability to transform landscapes and harness massive amounts of power I can’t argue that we arent effecting the planet in some way. The debate should be on how much humans are causing the warming and what to do about it. I think the free market conservatives are going to be right about “what to do”

  4. I’m not making any claims about the merits or actual substance of the debates over stem cells or global warming. I’m just trying to repeat how Democrats describe those issues (they are on the side of science while Republicans are making war on science). And I’m pointing out that in the case of education science, the Dems are clearly the ones engaged in a war on science.

  5. MOMwithAbrain says:

    Jay, I did understand that you were simply bringing up the issues. I just thought I’d add a bit more detail.

    Right now there is a push in many schools to teach global warming as if it’s a scientific fact. It is not.

    I would suggest checking the International Baccalaureate Program http://www.ibo.org/facts/annualreview/2008/documents/IBReview08.pdf (page 12)
    They make it clear that their goal is to carry forward a UN agenda in their geography curriculum. Yet it was the UN scientists who are now under worldwide criticism for deliberately falsifying data and lying about warming data.
    The very organization that put forth false information (United Nations) is the same organization feeding IB students propaganda on global warming.

  6. Minnesota Kid says:

    Jay, nice post, but Byron Dorgan is the senior Senator from North Dakota, not South Dakota. North Dakota, of course, is distinguished by the fact that it ranks 50th among U.S. states in annual tourism. What Senator Dorgan failed to reveal in his floor speech against the DC voucher program is that the main reason Neil Armstrong flew to the moon was to get the hell out of North Dakota!

  7. Kid,

    Senator Dorgan has one semi-reasonable excuse for his anti-voucher vote; North Dakota is tops in the US by some NAEP measures of school system performance, and it sends few students to independent and/or parochial schools. That’s weak, of course, since the Senator has condemned DC children to wretched schools.

    More fundamentally, as Austrian economists have said for nearly a century now, the advocates for State-monopoly enterprises of all sorts advance the anti-science position. “What works?” is an empirical question which only an experiment (a competitive market in goods or services) can answer. The system of title and markets (private property and the exchange economy) calibrates the reward for answers to questions about how to combine resources to satisfy human wants to the scale of resources expended and to the urgency of those wants. The firm which answers the question: “What resources are required to produce X (a good or service)?” with the answer “Less than other people suppose. Here’s our proof (a product)” reaps a reward proportional to the difference between everyone else’s answer and their lower cost, times the number of units it sells (the demand at the lower price).

    A State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls: a retarded experimental design.

    John Dewey was right; life is an on-going experiment. Too bad he did not believe his own theory.

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