Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: Choice: The New Argument

CURMUDGUCATION: Choice: The New Argument:

The New Argument

The argument in favor of school choice continues to evolve, and post-DeVos, the conservative version is taking on its most honest form to date. It has been peeking its head out here and there for a while, but this week emerges full-blown in a US News piece from Robert Pondiscio (Fordham Institute).

In "Asking the Wrong Questions on School Choice," Pondiscio looks at the argument prompted by news that three major studies have shown that voucher programs show results somewhere between none and negative. Choice fans struck back by arguing the research. Pondiscio's argument is that choice fans have let themselves get sucked into the wrong argument. And in making his case, Pondiscio has flipped a long-standing piece of the school choice debate on its head.

His argument has two parts, two assumptions that he wants to question.

First, he questions the assumption "that district schools have a place of privilege against which all other models must justify themselves." This, as Andy Smarick has suggested in the past, is a rather non-conservative argument for conservatives to make, dismissing as it does a traditional institution.

Second, he questions "that the sole purpose of schooling is to raise test scores." Which, well, yes. I agree. Using the Big Standardized Test scores to measure the effectiveness of schools is baloney. I'm pretty sure I've been saying so for years. Why are the people I've been arguing against on this issue suddenly agreeing with me?

But this is the head-flippy part. "Deciding whether or not to permit parents to choose based on test-based evidence is presumptuous," says Pondiscio, skipping over how we ever arrived at this point in the first place.

We arrived here because, years ago, reformsters said, "Look, we must allow school choice because public schools are failing? Don't believe us? Well, then-- let's make some standardized tests based on a set of standards that are supposedly linked to college and career success-- let's make those tests mandatory for everybody, and we will use those test results to prove that choice is needed."

And so reformsters embraced the BS Test, pushed the BS Test, used the BS Test as a crowbar for 
CURMUDGUCATION: Choice: The New Argument:

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