School Choice Myths in Perspective

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Check out the trippy cover on this month’s OCPA Perspective – and, if you have any extra time when you’re done admiring it, spare a minute to read the cover story, too:

For thirteen years, I’ve been a researcher in the school choice movement, and from day one the most important part of the job has been mythbusting. Ask any other researcher in this field and he’ll say the same. There’s no other issue in American politics where one side has built its case so thoroughly upon untrue factual statements. It seems like no media story on this topic can get by without repeating these myths as facts. It never stops.

Here are a few of the more important myths, drawn from recent debates in Oklahoma…

It’s a shame we still have to spend so much time mythbusting:

There’s so much we still don’t know about education. I’d love it if we researchers could focus our energy on uncovering the facts we don’t yet have. What factors are most important in a high quality teacher? To what extent does a school’s institutional culture make a difference? What policy and social conditions are needed to support more robust creation of new schools? Why do we see some evidence that there may be a tradeoff between good academic outcomes and good moral character outcomes, when we would expect the two to be aligned?

What we still don’t know about education is a big deal. But our bigger problem is what we think we know that isn’t so.

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