“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.