Statistics and schools
Diane Ravitch in the NYT comments on the politician use of statistics to promote an educational policy and program. Of course there are several private figures promoting charter schools and pilot programs as well, and a well funded lobby for such. I usually start with assuming it is a pitch…but not all records are public or thorough…
…some politicians believe that the right combination of incentives and punishments will produce dramatic improvement. Anyone who objects to this utopian mandate, they maintain, is just making an excuse for low expectations and bad teachers.
To prove that poverty doesn’t matter, political leaders point to schools that have achieved stunning results in only a few years despite the poverty around them. But the accounts of miracle schools demand closer scrutiny. Usually, they are the result of statistical legerdemain.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama hailed the Bruce Randolph School in Denver, where the first senior class had a graduation rate of 97 percent. At a celebration in February for Teach for America’s 20th anniversary, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sang the praises of an all-male, largely black charter school in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Urban Prep Academy, which replaced a high school deemed a failure. And in March, Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan joined Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, to laud the transformation of Miami Central Senior High School.
But the only miracle at these schools was a triumph of public relations.
Stats are in the article and links. Reader Jack sends a new link here.
The link, Diane Ravitch, http://angrybearblog.strategydemo.com/2014/05/%C2%A0http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/opinion/01ravitch.html?_r=1, goes “page not found.” A slightly more up to date reference , a review by Jonathan Kozol of Reign of Error by Ravitch is here, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/books/review/reign-of-error-by-diane-ravitch.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0