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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, July 15, 2006

Public schools work.......shhhhhh

Kids learn here

Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study

Published: July 15, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 14 — The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better.

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, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind 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 his political agenda, Mr. Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.

A spokesman for the Education Department, Chad Colby, offered no praise for public schools and said he did not expect the findings to influence policy. Mr. Colby emphasized the caveat, “An overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility.”

“We’re not just for public schools or private schools,’’ he said. “We’re for good schools.”

The report mirrors and expands on similar findings this year by Christopher and Sarah Theule Lubienski, a husband-and-wife team at the University of Illinois who examined just math scores. The new study looked at reading scores, too.

The study, along with one of charter schools, was commissioned by the former head of the national Center for Education Statistics, Robert Lerner, an appointee of President Bush, at a time preliminary data suggested that charter schools, which are given public money but are run by private groups, fared no better at educating children than traditional public schools.

Proponents of charter schools had said the data did not take into account the predominance of children in their schools who had already had problems in neighborhood schools.

The two new studies put test scores in context by studying the children’s backgrounds and taking into account factors like race, ethnicity, income and parents’ educational backgrounds to make the comparisons more meaningful. The extended study of charter schools has not been released.

Findings favorable to private schools would likely have given a lift to administration efforts to offer children in ailing public schools the option of attending private schools.

An Education Department official who insisted on anonymity because of the climate surrounding the report, said researchers were "extra cautious" in reviewing it and were aware of its “political sensitivity.”

The official said the warning against drawing unsupported conclusions was expanded somewhat as the report went through in the review.

Of course this should blow up in the Bushies faces. They have maligned teachers unions and public schools for years. Now the data comes back and says there is no real difference. Of course they want to play down the data.

Yesterday, a group of parents sued New Jersey to get vouchers. Which isn't going to happen.

But this is also ammo against the charter school movement as well. Good public schools work. You don't need to hand schools over to people with agendas to make them work,

posted by Steve @ 2:05:00 AM

2:05:00 AM

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