Sunday, August 21, 2011

Even When They Try To Use Data... They FAIL

Tea and Blindfolds
Even when the radical right attempt to use data, they fail.  They're so wedded to ideology they cannot allow any evidence to contradict their "common sense" assumptions about how the world is ordered.  And even when the evidence is weak, they continue to push their arguments as if they were based in utter, irrefutable fact.  In Sara Mosle's New York Times Book Review of Steven Brill's thinly veiled attack on public education, Class Warfare (get it? Aren't Yalies clever???), Brill comes up very short on several  of his key points.
Yet Brill wants us to believe that unions are the primary — even sole — cause of failing public schools. But hard evidence for this is scarce. Many of the nation’s worst-performing schools (according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress) are concentrated in Southern and Western right-to-work states, where public sector unions are weakest and collective bargaining enjoys little or no protection. Also, if unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn’t labor’s pernicious effect similarly felt in many middle-­class suburbs, like Pelham, N.Y., or Montclair, N.J., which have good schools — and strong unions?

More problematic for Brill’s thesis, charter schools, which are typically freed from union rules, haven’t succeeded in the ways their champions once hoped. A small percentage are undeniably superb. But most are not. One particularly rigorous 2009 study, which surveyed approximately half of all charters nationwide and was financed by the pro-­charter Walton Family and Michael and Susan Dell Foundations, found that more than 80 percent either do no better, or actually perform substantially worse, than traditional public schools, a dismal record. The study concluded that “tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception.”
Honesty is not the right-wing's strong suit.  Never has been, never will be.  Ideology trumps reality in their sad, little world.

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