Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama hypocrisy on education

Juan Williams is furious. Furious that President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have let the politics of catering to the teachers' unions to destroy the D.C. vouchers program. Williams points out a fact that is often ignored in this debate. The vouchers program doesn't take any money away from the regular D.C. education system.
This voucher programs is unique in that it takes no money away from the beleaguered District of Columbia Public Schools. Nationwide, the strongest argument from opponents of vouchers is that it drains hard-to-find dollars from public schools that educate the majority of children.

But Congress approved the D.C. plan as an experiment and funded it separately from the D.C. school budget. It is the most generous voucher program in the nation, offering $7,500 per child to help with tuition to a parochial or private school.

With that line of attack off the table, critics of vouchers pointed out that even $7,500 is not enough to pay for the full tuition to private schools where the price of a year’s education can easily go beyond $20,000. But nearly 8,000 students applied for the vouchers. And a quarter of them, 1,714 children, won the lottery and took the money as a ticket out of the D.C. public schools.

The students, almost all of them black and Hispanic, patched together the voucher money with scholarships, other grants and parents willing to make sacrifices to pay their tuition.
And then there is the Democrats ugly hypocrisy about not paying attention to the results of the program.
What happened, according to a Department of Education study, is that after three years the voucher students scored 3.7 months higher on reading than students who remained in the D.C. schools. In addition, students who came into the D.C. voucher program when it first started had a 19 month advantage in reading after three years in private schools.
Anyone involved in education knows that progress like this increases even more as kids go through school. Everything flows from the ability to read. That is the gateway to all other learning. And the voucher program is getting it done while the public schools can't. But Obama and Duncan are killing off that progress.
And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.

But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government’s offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.

He does not want to give the students a chance for a year in a better school? That does not make sense if the students and their families want that life-line of hope. It does not make sense if there is a real chance that the program might win new funding as parents, educators and politicians rally to undo the “bigotry of low expectations” and open doors of opportunity — wherever they exist — for more low-income students.
The real reason for killing a program that is helping these kids is that they don't want to have any more embarrassing studies come out to show the success of the program. They don't want any more appealing kids to go down to Capitol HIll and give press conferences pleading for their program.

Think of all the hundreds of millions of dollars we've thrown at education programs. Some have worked and some haven't. But the administration that has pledged that they're all about funding what works regardless of ideology has demonstrated that they're really only about doing what their NEA masters want; they're not concerned about helping these poor minority kids. For shame.


captain cryptic said...

Maybe we'll see Juan at a TeaParty now.

ic said...

Tell the parents that getting rid of their vouchers is precisely the change they should believe in.

Come 2010, the parents will vote Democrat, "well, the Dems give my kid a welfare check when he drops out of school."

Bachbone said...

A 2008 report in Michigan showed Charter schools in urban areas performed better than public schools, though both were below state average. Charter schools had better attendance, graduation rates and did it with lower funding.

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) union refuses to accept the results of the report. It wants "real evidence" instead.

Better test scores, better attendance, better graduation rates, students from the same socioeconomic group and educated with less money aren't good enough stats for the MEA union.

Jaw Bone said...

"Better test scores, better attendance, better graduation rates, students from the same socioeconomic group and educated with less money aren't good enough stats for the MEA union."It's generally better not to comment on matters that you are ignorant of, bachbone.

The outputs you get from a school system are dependent on the inputs to it. If the people going to charter schools are better students with more motivated parents, then of course that will be reflected in the outputs. You need to control for this bias, to uncover the real results.

But that doesn't even address the main objection to charter schools - they remove the best students and most motivated parents from the public schools, thus leaving a greater focus of problem cases for the public system.

Charter schools are externalizing the costs of dealing with the worst pupils. To rate them fairly, they should be obliged to take a fair share of problem students, not just cream off the best.

But no, the regressive way is to accept all the handouts, but refuse to accept responsibility for anything.

Pat Patterson said...

Oops, there is that "externalizing costs" again. It's pretty boring and ineffective when sock puppets paraphrase and quote each other from virtually the same factless screed of April 6, 2009. But just in case here's the link to the original research concerning the DC schools and on page 107 Appendix A takes into account just those concerns on how to arrive at comparative figures.


It's obvious that Jaw Bone didn't even look at the Michigan link as again those issues of parity in regards to the type of students attending the academies is addressed with mind numbingly detail. In fact in some of the host districts surrounding the academy their is a higher socio-economic rate than among the families with children in the academy.

But this is simply a tactic which Jaw Bone/m.o.d. etc use because it really doesn't matter what the reports say or how the data is adjusted its the characterization of the issue that is paramount. Can the left by repetition simply define the schools as these bastions of economic privilege while the huddled masses are doomed to schools where they only get to spend some 25-40% more than the charter schools and where the teachers stand in line to apply for jobs, as Michigan points out, earn themselves some $14K less per year.

Bachbone said...

Uhhh, "Jaw Bone," it's generally better not to suggest someone is "ignorant" about a topic when you have absolutely no idea about that person's background. My "ignorance" includes 20+ years of work in public education and tens of thousands of evaluations of students of all ages in public, Charter, church affiliated (e.g., Catholic, Lutheran), county prison and state run mental health schools.

I can personally attest to the fact that Charter and church affiliated schools do not refuse to accept students with learning disabilities, mental and emotional challenges, or mild to moderate hearing impairments. I have evaluated them. In fact, some of the schools' charters specifically forbid them from skimming. Those students are there because their parents want the best education for their children in an atmosphere that will inculcate their values, and they don't believe those can be found in the public schools.

Your thesis implies that only the most motivated parents send their kids to Charter (and church affiliated schools). The evidence shows, however, that the vast majority of inner city/urban parents would send their kids there if space and/or funds were available. When a Charter school is opened, applications for admission swamp it. When a church affiliated school annunces it has openings, it is deluged with calls. When a suburban school announces it is opening enrollment in an elementary school, inner city parents bombard it will calls wanting to get their kids enrolled. It's not only a matter of motivation. Urban parents want the best for their kids, too, and if given vouchers to attend a better, safer school, they would go where that school is located.

Jaw Bone said...

It all well and good to hurl some personal insults, Patty, but you did not actually address the substance. You never do.

Charter schools leach the cream of students, and thus leave the public school system with a higher proportion of expensive, harder to solve problem cases.

If charter (voucher, etc) schools took their fair share of responsibility for educating children at large, not just the stars, then we could be having a useful conversation. Your continued practice of insulting and evading might fool your fellow travelers in error, but it doesn't fool me.

Pat Patterson said...

I provide the links and Jaw Bone provides the obfuscation and the simple refusal to do any research. As to the insults I think it has been pretty well established that Jaw Bone is quick to use them and then whines freely when he must read them about one of his multiple personalities.