Spin Cycle

February 2, 2010 | Blog

Education Next apparently has provided a platform for school choice advocate George Mitchell to shill for voucher schools outside of the state of Wisconsin. Here is his latest spin on a study that shows the high school graduation rate to be 12 points higher in seven Milwaukee voucher schools compared with 23 Milwaukee public high schools.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story by Erin Richards provides the crucial quote regarding causation from the study’s author, John Robert Warren, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota:

“We still don’t know whether it’s going to the voucher school that causes you to be more likely to graduate, or if it’s something about the kinds of families that send their kids to voucher schools would make them more likely to graduate,” he said.

Then there’s the whole question of which and how the voucher and public high schools were chosen for purposes of comparison. More questions than answers. Unlike Mitchell, I neither see this report as providing “another piece of evidence suggesting that urban students benefit when afforded more educational options,” nor “new data” to encourage President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan to take “a second look at the power of parent choice.”

The study was funded by the voucher-advocacy group School Choice Wisconsin, run by Mitchell’s wife, Susan. The Mitchells have split from national school choice leader Howard Fuller who is devoting his current efforts to furthering accountability and quality in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

After the spin cycle, be sure to rinse.

For past perspective on Voucher Inc, please visit here.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Claus

    February 2, 2010

    Thanks for pointing out the study, its results, and the resulting spin. It's always touchy when advocacy organizations begin pushing their own research. As Sara noted, the recent study elevating for-profit post-secondary institutions over public community colleges committed similar sins--and was sponsored by a a trade association of for-profit providers. Hard not to take such a report with a grain of salt.


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