Jul 24, 2006
Public school students score better than comparable private and charter school students in reading and math. Students at conservative Christian schools did the worst, by far. These were the conclusions arrived at by an in-depth study carried out by the Bush administration’s own Department of Education.
This should have been big news, since it contradicts Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policies completely. Those policies push children into charter schools and give out vouchers for private schools, all of which take more money out of public school systems.
As bad as public schools are, they couldn’t help but be better than private schools. They have possibilities private schools can’t match, all else being equal. They’re not run for profit; their main purpose is education, even if officials and contractors siphon off funds. They don’t have an overt religious agenda that gets in the way of a proper scientific education. And they’re centralized; they can pool resources and distribute them efficiently.
Certainly, many public school systems do these things badly. But comparable private schools do them worse.
If Bush is serious about making education better for children – truly “leaving no child behind” – then he would be acting on the study’s results. He would be reversing his policy immediately, and reversing the flow of money back into public schools, to make them better.
Bush didn’t do that. The administration downplayed the results, saying the comparison between schools was of “limited utility”– even though the study carefully separated out all other differences between the student populations, only comparing schools where students came from the same socio-economic background.
Furthermore, the Department of Education released the results, without any comment or news conference, on a Friday evening – the “dead time” right before the weekend, when stories typically get ignored.
No, they aren’t serious about improving education. They simply want to use public school funds to promote a political and religious agenda.