Monday, July 17, 2006

Take it away, Oliver

Here's the first paragraph in a recent Oliver Willis post:
According to . . . what is it again? Oh, yes, a scientific study U.S. public school kids aren't the drooling morons in comparison to the elitist private schools that the right is constantly pushing. Imagine that.

Follow the link in Oliver's post, and you get to this New York Times article. Spot urges you to read the article, boys and girls, but here's the summary:
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, 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. [italics are Spot's]

The report, a link to which can be found in the Times article, did give a slight nod to the reading scores of the private schoolers in the eighth grade. Just in time to wade into those religious polemics!

Even though the study was commissioned by the U.S Department of Education, the administration is deeply ashamed of it. According to the Times:
Its release [the report], 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.

And speaking of charter schools, does the public really have any idea how much money we have sunk into charter schools in Minnesota, and with what result? Spot thinks he will look into it. He'll dedicate his effort to Katie, Captain Fishsticks, and John Brandl!


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