Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Best Data Money Can't Buy

Some days, it must suck to be Bill Gates. All those billions, and the one thing he can't change is facts.

As it turns out, Tom Kane, former NJ governor and current member of Gates' education reform team, headed a study called "School Choice, School Quality, and Post-Secondary Attainment".  Even the title of the study would lead you to believe this was a gold mine for ed deformers. Quite the contrary.

As Anthony Cody of EdWeek reported, the study actually supports the status quo that the deformers are attacking. Student who were moved from lower quality to higher quality schools showed almost no difference in performance. It turns out that you can't change student performance just by changing schools and testing, testing, testing. You can, however, improve student performance by starting schooling early and getting kids off to a good start in reading (gee, who'd have thunk it?)

Cody's blog post also points out that the Charlotte-Mecklenberg school system, winner of this year's Broad Prize, actually stunk up the joint. The system, much touted by Arne Duncan and his ilk, "...failed dismally in meeting its academic targets for the 2010-2011 school year. Emily Dalesio of the Associated Press wrote on July 21 that “preliminary schoolhouse data show fewer than three of 10 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools met the targets set for them in the academic year that concluded in June.”"

Other than on EdWeek, I haven't seen anyone discuss these revelations. Maybe much of the education media, supported by the largesse of Bill Gates, saw fit not to bite the hand that feeds it. But make no mistake about it--this is big news. Yet another of the deformers magic bullets, school choice, has been shown to be a pipe dream. 

Even Bill Gates, as rich as he is, isn't entitled to his own facts.

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