Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 17, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

IGNORE IT AND IT WILL GO AWAY....Many conservatives see charter schools as a sort of "free-market" solution to the problems of public education. Recently, though, the federal government compared test scores of kids in charter schools to those in regular public schools and found that the charter schools did substantially worse in nearly all categories.

How did the Bush administration react?

The findings, buried in mountains of data the Education Department released without public announcement, dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including the Bush administration.

....The results, based on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the nation's report card, were unearthed from online data by researchers at the American Federation of Teachers, which provided them to The New York Times.

....Federal officials said they did not intend to hide the performance of charter schools, and denied any political motivation for failing to publicly disclose that the data were available. "I guess that was poor publicity on our part," said Robert Lerner, the federal commissioner for education statistics.

They don't even bother trying to make up good lies anymore, do they?

As it happens, I don't have any special axe to grind when it comes to charter schools I've vaguely felt for a while that they showed some promise and were worth experimenting with and I have mixed feelings as well about our current mania for high stakes testing. But George Bush has mixed feelings about neither of these things and has repeatedly insisted that both schools and educational programs in general should be judged on scientific evidence.

Except, apparently, when that evidence is unfavorable to his ideological worldview which is pretty much the story for this entire administration, isn't it? They know what they want, and facts on the ground just don't change their minds.

It's mind-bogglingly stupid, as if ignoring the evidence will make the problem go away. And what's worse, this attitude actually hurts the charter school cause, since it's only by paying attention to data like this that charter school problems can be addressed. Ignore it, and in a few years a new (and worse) report will come out and the whole charter school movement will be doomed.

George Bush, CEO president. Bad CEO president. The board of directors needs to take some action.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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