Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reading About Education in the Press: Consider the Source and Demand Documentation | janresseger

Reading About Education in the Press: Consider the Source and Demand Documentation | janresseger:
Reading About Education in the Press: Consider the Source and Demand Documentation


At the end of last week a friend forwarded a column that had appeared in his local paper.  It is short, pithy, and readable.  Unfortunately, although it begins with some facts that are perfectly accurate about the public schools, its author quickly twists her argument, neglects the truth and reflects the bias of her employer.  The article is written by Vicki Alger, a research fellow atThe Independent Institute.  It was circulated by the Tribune News Service, affiliated with theSeattle TimesChicago TribuneLos Angeles TimesMiami HeraldDallas Morning NewsKansas City Star, and Philadelphia Inquirer.  It is just the sort of little column that an editor might pick up to fill a space left on the opinion pages.
Alger begins by noting that scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress have been pretty flat for decades now. She is correct that today’s school reforms have failed to raise achievement. However, she quickly jumps to the assumption that, because test scores have not risen, increased spending on education—up, she says, by 140 percent between 1971 and 2012— has failed. There is a very important omission here: she neglects to mention that in 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that brought vastly increased spending on education for students with special needs.  Here is what Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute explained in his 1995 book, Where’s the Money Gone?: “A detailed examination of expenditures in nine typical U.S. school districts shows that the share of expenditures going to regular education dropped from 80% to 59% between 1967 and 1991, while the share going to special education climbed from 4% to 17%. Of the net new money spent on education in 1991, only 26% went to improve regular education, while about 38% went to special education for severely handicapped and learning-disabled children. Per pupil expenditures for regular education grew by only 28% during this quarter century—an average annual rate of about 1%.”
Alger then sets up several straw men: “We were promised that illiteracy would be eliminated by 1984.  We were promised that high school graduation rates would reach 90 percent by the year 2000 and that American students would be global leaders in math and science.  And we were promised that by 2014 all students would be proficient in reading and math. None of this has happened.”
So… concludes, Alger, because we have not arrived at utopia, we must get rid of the U.S. Department of Education and put parents in charge through school choice. “Research shows Reading About Education in the Press: Consider the Source and Demand Documentation | janresseger:


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