Saturday, March 30, 2013

School vouchers don't work

Posted By on Sat, Mar 30, 2013 at 5:15 AM

You just have to follow Diane Ravitch if you live in this land of Stepford legislators who accept pronouncements from the Billionaire Boys Club school reform lobby as holy writ. If a Walton says it — or somebody paid by the Waltons — it must be so. There is another side.

Speaking of the Waltons:

They finance a school up at the University of Arkansas's Walton branch campus in Fayetteville dedicated to churning out support for the BBC's anti-union, pro-voucher, pro-charter, pro-obsessive-testing political movement.

So it's interesting to read Ravitch's conclusion that school vouchers don't work when her opinion is based on research by Patrick Wolf of the Walton think tank at UAF (he gets an endowed chair, thanks to Walton money, in "school choice," if that gives you any idea what he's expected to favor). Ravitch:

Now that 17 states have authorized vouchers to “save kids from failing schools,” it is time to review the evidence from Milwaukee, which has had vouchers for 22 years.

The “independent evaluator” of the Milwaukee and D.C. voucher programs is Patrick J. Wolf of the University of Arkansas. As we learned during school choice week earlier this year, Wolf is a strong supporter of school choice and he even wrote an editorial saying that his home state of Minnesota needs more school choice because it was in danger of falling behind Arkansas in doing so. How much more independent can an evaluator be? It is perhaps also noteworthy that the University of Arkansas is generously funded by Arkansas’s biggest philanthropy, the Walton Foundation, which pours millions every year into charters and vouchers and anything that has the possibility of undermining public schools.

Not even Wolf’s evaluations have shown any test score advantage for students who get vouchers, whether in DC or Milwaukee.

Fair is fair, Luke. Why not pay to have Ravitch come down to talk when you're running some of the Waltons' school bills in the Arkansas legislature. You can afford it.

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