Friday, January 13, 2017

NY Times misrepresents school choice outcomes

The New York Times Continues to Mislead About School Choice in Michigan | Cato @ Liberty - Jason Bedrick:

January 10, 2017 - "In its quest to build a false narrative about Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, the New York Times has continuously misled readers about the effects of charter schools in Detroit. The latest example comes from today’s editorial: '[DeVos] has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.'

"The NYT editors based their claim on a (faulty) Times op-ed from November in which Douglas Harris made the following claim: 'As one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, [DeVos] is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country. […] One well-regarded study found that Detroit’s charter schools performed at about the same dismal level as its traditional public schools'....

"Back in July, I highlighted the same report’s findings to dispel a similarly misleading description in the NYT: 'As shown [on] page 44 of the CREDO report, nearly half of Detroit’s charter schools outperformed the city’s traditional district schools in reading [46%] and math [48%] scores, while only one percent of charter schools performed worse in reading and only seven percent performed worse in math.'

"To claim, as the NYT does, that Detroit 'charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse' based on these figures is a highly distorted way of presenting the data. It’s equally true to say 'Detroit charter schools almost always perform as well [as] or better than traditional schools'....

"As [Ranesh] Ponnuru notes, the 2012 CREDO study concluded:
Based on the findings presented here, the typical student in Michigan charter schools gains more learning in a year than his [traditional public school (TPS)] counterparts, amounting to about two months of additional gains in reading and math. These positive patterns are even more pronounced in Detroit, where historically student academic performance has been poor. These outcomes are consistent with the result that charter schools have significantly better results than TPS for minority students who are in poverty.....
"Harris responded by shifting the goalposts by expressing skepticism of the very CREDO study he had previously described as 'well-regarded' when citing it in support of his view, claiming that the positive 'CREDO results may reflect cherry-picking” among other reasons why we shouldn’t take these results 'literally.' For the record, I am not entirely persuaded that the matching efforts in the CREDO study were well done, but one cannot cite a study in support of one’s view only to dismiss it when it is pointed out that the study’s conclusion contradicts that view."

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