(Guest post by Greg Forster)
We now interrupt this serialized political philosophy dissertation on how power corrupts knowledge systems to bring you something completely unrelated – the latest nonsense from the increasingly irrelevant, lifelong Democratic party hack Jack Jennings!
Talk about weasel words. Studies clearly and conclusively finding modest positive impacts from vouchers magically become studies finding that voucher outcomes are “similar” to outcomes at public schools, which then magically become studies provding no “clear” evidence that vouchers have any impact. Never mind that most studies of vouchers have been conducted at Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Stanford, the Fed, etc. – they’ve been conducted by “pro-voucher” researchers, which is technically true if you define any researcher who does a study finding positive impacts from vouchers as a pro-voucher researcher. (By the same method, you can prove that all studies finding cigarettes cause cancer were conducted by “anti-smoking researchers.”) Extremely minute scrutiny of studies by think tanks have found no scientific flaws in their work, which proves that even more minute scrutiny is obviously needed. And for some reason, a shift in the political winds away from supporting smaller voucher programs toward supporting larger voucher programs is evidence that vouchers are failing! Right, sure they are.
For the record, the empirical evidence supporting school choice is overwhelming – stronger than the evidence supporting any other reform policy. Impact sizes are sometimes large but usually modest, not surprising given that existing programs are tiny, underfunded and overregulated. But the evidence is consistent that school choice produces benefits even under these disadvantageous conditions.
Oh, and more good news: everyone’s onto Jennings’ game, so no one cares about his nonsense. Mickey Kaus:
At this point if Jack Jennings doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze in front of the NEA, would anyone notice?
I have Jennings’ professional reptuation hanging on the wall in my trophy room, right next to my Jay Mathews meal ticket.