Sunday, July 16, 2006

Margaret Spellings Dirty Little Secret

There are numerous buried studies that refute the claim that America's schools represent a threat to our ability to globally compete or that our children are suffering some kind of miseducation at the hands of incompetent fools. They never get the traction they deserve because bad press about school performance is main stream media's (MSM) party line. It sells.

And, of course, the Departments of Education at the Federal and State levels genuflect and defer to the political impetus to promote these kinds of fallacies. But truth is a funny thing. The right-wing fanaticism about school performance is starting to be exposed for what it is and always was - bullshit.

This from the New York Times article, Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study by DIANA JEAN SCHEMO.

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, found that fourth graders attending public school did significantly better in math than comparable fourth graders in private schools. Additionally, it found that students in conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind their counterparts in public schools on eighth-grade math.

The study, carrying the imprimatur of the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department, was contracted to the Educational Testing Service and delivered to the department last year.

It went through a lengthy peer review and includes an extended section of caveats about its limitations and calling such a comparison of public and private schools “of modest utility.”

Its release, on a summer Friday, was made with without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were “doing an outstanding job” and that if the results had been favorable to private schools, “there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools.”

“The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning” to advance its political agenda, Mr. Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.

Something that this report hints at is that "The report separated private schools by type and found that among private school students, those in Lutheran schools performed best, while those in conservative Christian schools did worst."

I cannot help but wonder whether or not the complaints coming from Colleges and Universities about the need for remedial courses in reading and math are in fact an indictment of public school graduates and not more specifically certain private school graduate clusters pulling down public school graduate's accomplishments.

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