Education Tall Tales
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an article this morning detailing a study by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy, which claims that urban private high schools are no more effective at academic achievement or college completion than inner-city public high schools.
Please. I guess that’s why the first question I’m asked when I meet somebody new in St. Louis is, "Where did you go to high school?"
I’m not going to argue with the results here (though I do question the methodology … and our own Michael Podgursky has had issues with the author’s research in the past) but I will stress that this is from a national study, and local results will not necessarily be the same. There is plenty of research that documents the success of individual school choice programs in some of the nation’s worst-performing public school districts. More than anything, their success results the fact that teachers are free to pursue alternative curricula in private schools, which enables them to reach students who have traditionally failed in public education. And, according to Post-Dispatch‘s coverage, the study itself admits that “overall, low-income students in private schools outperformed those in public schools.”
Furthermore (and I realize this isn’t an effective rebuttal) the Center on Education Policy is hardly an objective source. According to their website, they claim that they are “independent,” “unbiased,” and that they do not “represent any special interests.” Yet in the same breath, they unabashedly state that they are avowed “advocates for public schools.” How can you be independent, unbiased, and immune to a special interest, when you are explicitly tied to a special interest to begin with?
I believe that public schools would perform better if they had incentives to innovate. That’s hardly an unrealistic assumption. If they are as great as the Center on Education Policy believes, then they should have no problem responding to increased competition. So what are the public school advocates afraid of?
Oh, and speaking of those wonderful “public schools,” there’s another article today about just how much taxpayer money they are wasting in adequacy lawsuits. So, while school districts argue that they aren’t given enough money by the Legislature, they are simultaneously wasting millions of tax dollars in legal fees, through an endless appeals process.
I wonder what the Center on Education Policy would say about that?