Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Brandl's offspring . . .

Spotty thinks he has located Dave’s tag team partner! Welcome Lee McGrath. Lee posted a comment criticizing Spot’s award of a Spotty to Rob Levine for Rob’s dissection of John Brandl’s criticism of a Star Tribune editorial. Got that? Anyway, Spot wants to respond to the comment a little more comprehensively that a comment might allow. Here is the comment, with some remarks by Spot:

Dear Spot:

Are you certain you want to give Mr. Levine such a noble prize?

Yup; he’s sure.

His first observation about voucher students doing "worse on standardized tests and have smaller academic gains than students who attend regular public schools."

However the study that Mr. Levine told me he based this observation says something different. It says: "The most recent results do not reveal any significant impacts of participation in the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program on student achievement. From the end of first grade, when the large initial differences between public school students and scholarship students no longer existed, students in all of the groups we have studied demonstrated significant gains each year. And, across groups, the general extent of achievement growth was nearly equal through second and third grade. Although it is not statistically significant in the data available to date, there is some evidence of a pattern of slightly greater annual achievement growth among (voucher) students who have used a scholarship continuously since kindergarten. If this pattern continues, the achievement of this group of students may become noticeably, and meaningfully, higher than that of public school students. However, data over three to five additional years will be necessary to confirm or discount such a pattern."

For the entire report, see clev5sumrep.pdf

Actually, there is a collection of articles about the performance of voucher schools at Cursor’s Media Transparency site that you can read here. Rob Levine is an editor at

If Mr. Levine's first point is dubious, doesn't that make you, Spotty, question your endless loyalty to him?

Spot has no loyalty, in spite of being a dog, to anybody. Spot’s own post about Brandl’s article was published days before Levine’s opinion piece, and Spot makes different points. One of Spot’s points, made only obliquely in his recent post, but made more comprehensively before, is that a payment by the state of a voucher to a religious school is almost certainly unconstitutional under the Minnesota Constitution. Spot says that Article XIII Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution sets up an absolute bar to aid of sectarian schools, stricter that the “neither advance nor inhibit” test currently employed by the federal Supremes. Lee should be interested in that as a constitutional lawyer type.

And what about point #4? Do you share his belief that it is important to keep students in poorly performing schools to avoid teachers' unions defunding the Democratic Party?

The remedy is to make the schools better, not do more to insure their failure. The older Spot gets, nearly 400 in dog years now, the more he realizes that life is an ensemble (or pack, to stay in metaphor) affair. And that quality public education has more to do with the future success of our society that virtually anything else.

To answer the next question, Spotty says that the DFL champions public education while the current crop of Republican Social Darwinist hunter gatherers does not, and that is why teachers support the DFL.

Spotty, you don't want to sacrifice puppies and students just to keep the DFL funded, do you?

Wrong question. Do you, Lee, want to sacrifice the Minnesota Constitution – and the First Amendment if the Supreme Court had any moxie – to fund religious institutions?

Say it ain't so Spotty?

Lee McGrath | Homepage | 10.25.05 - 9:23 pm | #


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