U.S. House Education Workforce Committee: Choice = grow = good?

Choice=grow=good? is the reasoning of a top ten of “Fast Facts on School Choice” recently released by the House Education and the Workforce Committee (see list below). Let’s test their “moving in the right direction” logic.

I choose to spend money=my credit card bill grows=good?

I eat too many calories=I become overweight and my waist grows=good?

We choose to burn fossil fuels=air becomes polluted/greenhoused=good?

Well, mold grows too. But that doesn’t mean that all mold is good…

This is the logic and reasoning that the House Education and the Workforce Committee utilized for eight of their facts: grow=good. Since those choice mechnisms are growing; therefore, they are “stronger, more effective.” On the effective point, only one of the ten facts (#5) actually deals with efficacy, so why did they slap strong and more effective on their top ten list? Regarding #5, I responded to a commenter on Linkedin recently when he brought up the New York study (he also mentioned Sweden as a comparable voucher system to the U.S.):

Regarding your two examples. First, New York. Interesting about that study was that it ONLY showed an effect for African Americans. However, the most damning evidence against the external validity of the study came from the authors themselves: “Scaling up voucher programs will change the social composition of private schools,” the report states. “To the extent that student learning is dependent on peer quality the impact reported here could easily change.” [This is the reasons for the failure of class size reduction in California] So if you want to know what vouchers look like when you scale them up, the only country in the world that has done that is Chile. I have posted on Chile extensively on Cloaking Inequity. Suffice to say that the Chilean example shows that vouchers have magnified inequality in the country. On your point about Sweden, schools are not allowed to discriminate in their voucher program, whether they are public or private. Our constitution allows private schools to discriminate based on race, gender, disability etc. This results in a creaming effect that you see in charters and vouchers. I have also posted on this extensively on Cloaking Inequity. Click on the vouchers and charters categories in the cloud. ciao!

NEPC also wrote an extensive statistical critique of the New York City findings here.

Fact #6 is the most appealing of the 10, you give kids scholarships, they go on to college. Now that is a revolutionary thought— earth-shattering. When college students can pay their tuition bill, they are more likely to stay, we don’t need research studies and fancy statistical models to demonstrate that. However, it makes you wonder why the feds and states are always trying to limit financial aid with various merit thresholds instead of need mechanisms?! Federal and state legislative staffs have asked me recently about “accountability” for college and universities— A No Child Left Behind law for our college and universities, the envy of the world? Motto: When it ain’t broke, fix it.

Contact: Press Office(202) 226-9440  (202) 226-9440
Did You Know? 10 Fast Facts on School Choice

WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 30, 2013 –

State and local school choice initiatives continue to boost academic achievement and strengthen the nation’s education system. In honor of National School Choice Week (January 27 – February 2), the House Education and the Workforce Committee compiled the following facts on a variety of innovative programs and policies that are expanding choice and options in education:
  • FACT #1: Demand and support for charter schools continues to grow. More than 2 million students are enrolled at 5,618 charter schools in America. An additional 610,000 students are currently on charter school waiting lists.
  • FACT # 2: Eighty percent of states have embraced charter schools. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws that support the funding and authorizing of public charter schools.
  • FACT #3: Magnet schools educate millions of students every year. In the 2010-2011 academic year, more than 2 million studentswere enrolled at 2,722 magnet schools in 31 states. These public schools often have a specific focus, such as science and technology, math, or the humanities, and help prepare students for in-demand jobs.
  • FACT #4: States are expanding private school choice programs. In 2012, 16 states, the District of Columbia, and Douglas County, Colorado offered private school choice programs. More than 210,000 students participated in these programs in 2011-2012 academic year.
  • FACT #5: Private school choice programs can help increase college enrollment. According to a 2012 study, disadvantaged African American students who received private school vouchers in New York City were 24 percent more likely to attend college.
  • FACT #6: Private scholarship programs can help raise high school graduation rates. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program had a 94 percent high school graduation rate. Nearly 90 percent of participating students went on to pursue a postsecondary degree.
  • FACT #7: A growing number of states and students are taking advantage of virtual schools. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia allow full time online schools and approximately 275,000 students were enrolled during the 2011-2012 school year. These online schools improve access to education for rural students who would otherwise be forced to commute long distances to attend school.
  • FACT #8: An estimated two-thirds of school districts now offer blended learning programs, a combination of traditional and online schooling. These fast-growing programs allow parents to select more personalized curriculum for their students, while also incorporating the benefits of a traditional classroom setting.
  • FACT #9: Since 1999, the popularity of homeschooling has grown significantly. From 1999 to 2007, the number of homeschooled students increased by 74 percent. There were approximately 2 million home school students in the U.S. in 2010.
  • FACT #10: In 2011, 46 states offered open enrollment to students. Open enrollment policies allow students to transfer to a different public school within the district or state, helping children escape low-performing schools.
Each of these initiatives is paving the way toward a stronger, more effective education system. House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans will continue supporting school choice programs as part of our efforts to empower parents and help ensure all students have access to a quality education.


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