Killing a program that works

School Reform Means Doing What’s Best for Kids, writes Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the Wall Street Journal.

We need solid, unimpeachable information that identifies what’s working and what’s not working in our schools.

The Obama administration will fund “what works,” he writes.  They’ll follow the data where ever it leads.

Unless vouchers, bane of the teachers’ unions, are involved. writes George Will.   After Democrats voted to effectively defund Washington, D.C.’s voucher program, Duncan’s Education Department tried to bury the release of a “congressionally mandated study showing that, measured by student improvement and parental satisfaction, the District’s program works,” Will charges.

The department could not suppress the Heritage Foundation’s report that 38 percent of members of Congress sent or are sending their children to private schools.

The Senate voted 58 to 39 to kill the program. Heritage reports that if the senators who have exercised their ability to choose private schools had voted to continue the program that allows less-privileged parents to make that choice for their children, the program would have been preserved.

The Washington Post editorially piles on Duncan, who admits he moved to Arlington, Virginia because he didn’t want to “jeopardize my own children’s education.”

Jay P. Greene wraps up the criticism of Duncan and the Dems.

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Comments

  1. The Juan Williams piece was worth reading. I’ve never seen him tee off like that.

  2. I guess we should fund programs based on evidence except ones you favor like the exit exam. Most studies find little or no impact for vouchers programs, but the same crowd continues to push for it. You don’t seem to get the inconsistency.

  3. (Jim): “Most studies find little or no impact for vouchers programs, but the same crowd continues to push for it.”

    Ummmm…You know this how?

    Go here and here.

    You want international evidence? Please read this…

    Gerard Lassibile and Lucia Navarro Gomez
    “Organization and Efficiency of Educational Systems: some empirical findings”, pg. 16,
    Comparative Education , Vol. 36 #1, 2000, Feb.
    “Furthermore, the regression results indicate that countries where private education is more widespread perform significantly better than countries where it is more limited. The result showing the private sector to be more efficient is similar to those found in other contexts with individual data (see, for example, Psucharopoulos, 1987; Jiminez, et. al, 1991).
    This finding should convince countries to reconsider policies that reduce the role of the private sector in the field of education”.

    and this

    Joshua Angrist,
    “Randomized Trials and Quasi-Experiments in Education Research”
    NBER Reporter, summer, 2003.

    “One of the most controversial innovations highlighted by NCLB is school choice. In a recently published paper,(5) my collaborators and I studied what appears to be the largest school voucher program to date. This program provided over 125,000 pupils from poor neighborhoods in the country of Colombia with vouchers that covered approximately half the cost of private secondary school. Colombia is an especially interesting setting for testing the voucher concept because private secondary schooling in Colombia is a widely available and often inexpensive alternative to crowded public schools. (In Bogota, over half of secondary school students are in private schools.) Moreover, governments in many poor countries are increasingly likely to experiment with demand-side education finance programs, including vouchers.”

    Read <a href=”http://www.naringslivsforskning.se/Wfiles/wp/WP578.pdf “this.

  4. Well, Here is a view from Rouse and Barrow. http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/OP163.pdf

    Unlike some of the people working in this area she has published results that have findings showing some effects and no effects for competition. She is also not funded by Wal-Mart. I find it funny that part of the argument made for vouchers is that teachers are more interested in protecting their jobs than children. However, many of the people who publish these studies are funded by ideological groups and institutes who would never tolerate someone who published research finding vouchers don’t work.

    Here is the abstract.

    In this article, we review the empirical evidence on the impact of education vouchers on student achievement, and briefly discuss the evidence from other forms of school choice. The best research to date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero. Further, what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also consistent with this conclusion. Many questions remain unanswered, however, including whether vouchers have longer-run impacts on outcomes such as graduation rates, college enrollment, or even future wages, and whether vouchers might nevertheless provide a cost-neutral alternative to our current system of public education provision at the elementary and secondary school level.

  5. School “reform” means doing what is best for teachers unions and politicians. Nothing more.

  6. 1) Which of the studies to which Jay Greene refers was funded by Wal-Mart?
    2) If institutional funding is an issue, why may I then not question studies funded by the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in your neighborhood (the State) which find that competitive markets in education services perform no beter than monopoly school systems operated by people under contract to the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in your neighborhood?
    3) (Rouse): “…what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also consistent with this conclusion.”

    I strongly object to this conclusion, for several reasons.
    (a) States which operate numerous small school districts yield higher performance (as measured by NAEP 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math scores) than States which compel attendance in a few large school districts.
    b) States which compel attendance at age 7 have higher performance than States which compel attendance at age 6.
    c) Homeschooled children enrolled in “virtual” on-line schools in Alaska outperform students in conventional schools.
    d) Lassibile and Gomes (above).

    From these and other lines of evidence, I derive the following conclusions:
    1) As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls.
    2) Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.

  7. SuperSub says:

    Malcolm-
    Do you ever make a post without attempting to sound clever in your unfounded criticism of government? I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen “largest dealer in interpersonal violence in your neighborhood.”

  8. (SuperSub): “Malcolm-
    Do you ever make a post without attempting to sound clever in your unfounded criticism of government? I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen ‘largest dealer in interpersonal violence in your neighborhood.'”

    “The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality” is not a criticism of government; it’s a definition of “government”.

    “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master.”–George Washington–

    “Political power grows out of teh barrel of a gun/”–Mao Tse Tung–

    Max Weber defined government as the monopoly in legitimate violence.

    Since monopolies are seldom absolute, making that part of the definition slightly innacurate, and since the State defines “legitimate”, making that part definition redundant, I prefer my formulation. There is a point here. The State is a corporation, made of people, with their own human motivations.

    One hundred and fifty years of State-worshipful indoctrination has produced a population which looks upon the State as some sort of divine entity. Journalists promote this when they call government work “public service”. We now have a President who, as Jesse Jackson observed, “has never run anything but his mouth”, and who none the less presumes to prescribe how banks and auto manufacturers are to operate. US schools waste 12 years of kids’ lives. We will never think our way out of our problems so long as a majority of citizens operate on a delusional perception of one of the major factors in the process.

  9. Of course, the only legitimate use of violence is for defense or retaliation against initiated force or fraud. To use or threaten to use violence against those who have not initiated force or fraud is an injustice, regardless of the reason. But our government does it all the time, with the blessing of most Americans. People who support our government as it is need to provide a moral justification for using or threatening violence against those who have not violated anyone else’s peace or liberty. Can anyone do that? No, they can’t. Because there is no justification.

    Keep it up, Malcolm. You’re right and they’re wrong.