Putting Private Education to the Test (was Re: Heresy: why Isupport school vouchers)

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMfreepcmail.com
Fri Aug 6 21:23:36 MDT 1999

>Many parents think private schools do a better job, an assumption that has
>grown into a powerful movement for tax vouchers to help children leave the
>public schools.
>But hard evidence comparing the performance of public and nonpublic schools
>has proved elusive. This month, however, New York State released test
>scores on a new fourth-grade reading and writing test that provided a rare
>basis for side-by-side comparison, and the results were surprising: There
>were only modest differences in the performance of private schools --
>mainly Catholic ones -- and public schools.


    If you believe this article, I have a great deal in a slightly used
bridge you may be interested in.<g>

    Seriously, "hard evidence" comparing the performance of various types of
schools in readily available. Compare, for example, SAT scores, dropout
rates, graduation rates, college admission rates, college success rates,
literacy rates and so on. Seriously, the "hard evidence is hard to find"
line doesn't even pass the giggle test. I'm surprised the NYT went for this
(then again, are they still running the paid Shanker column every week?
Maybe it's NOT so hard to understand!), as they usually draw the line at
bourgeois propaganda that is so crass and stupid as to be counterproductive.
I guess lying bourgeois propaganda ain't what it used to be.

    Moreover, if you read the article carefully you'll see it pretty much
contradicts its own "spin." There is, in fact, a HUGE difference between the
NYC public school system --mostly an inner city school system (though not
exclusively so -- parts of Queens were really quite "suburban" last time I
checked) and the rest. Only 33% in the NYC public schools (including those
that should be considered suburban) "passed"-- compared to an average of 48%
statewide for ALL public school students.

    This isn't an honestly presented comparison. The real comparison is
between the overwhelmingly oppressed minority NYC (and other) inner-city
school systems and the rest, the suburban mostly white public schools, and
the private schools.  If you factor out NYC public schools, what was the
average for the state public schools as a whole? Somewhere in the 50s, at

    Despite the confessed totally arbitrary nature of the comparison vis a
vis private schools, the author generalizes, "Still, there was general
agreement among educators that the results present a challenge to the
conventional wisdom about public and private education."

    The author quotes someone from what sounds like either an adjunct to the
school system or the Shankerite union. For "balance" she quotes some
Reaganite bourgeois voucher advocate, who avers that private schools ought
be doing better. N.B. those they do NOT quote. They don't quote Black and
Hispanic community leaders or educators, nor people involved in alternative
schools. It's like the "debate" on Yugoslavia

    It is especially significant that only a small minority of the
non-Catholic, non-Jewish public schools participated. Where are the
Montessori schools, the Waldorf schools, the Quaker schools, the
international schools? Those kinds of schools, which are the ones that take
the greatest distance from the ultra-regimented, ultra-"competitive",
educational "mainstream", of course have  little use for tests to rank
children one to five.

    Here in Atlanta -- it is really so vulgar, so repugnant when one thinks
of it -- the "better" snobby, white suburban schools have taken to giving
out bumper stickers. "My child is on the honor roll at {such-and-such}

    There are, interestingly, two counter-bumper stickers. One, to the
effect of my child beat the crap out of your honor student, the other, put
out by the friends (Quaker) school, "Every child is always honored at the
Friends School of Atlanta."

    At any rate, there's no way any number of NY Times scribblers are going
to convince the Black or Hispanic community that, really, there isn't all
that much of a difference between the schools better off whites have access
to and those the capitalist state imposes on the oppressed minorities. Or
that there's no evidence the white public schools are better than the Black
Who are they trying to kid? There's a public school walking distance from
the White House, I'm sure, but Chelsea Clinton went to the friends school.
When all the bourgeois politicians and their apologists send THEIR kids to
the schools they try to impose on us, then perhaps we'll listen to this
there-really-isn't much of a difference propaganda. But not until.


P.S. The study you cite elsewhere, on the $2000/year or so Cleveland voucher
program is ridiculous, as its authors more-or-less admit. For one thing,
private schools that pay their own way, i.e., that rely on support from
their clients to survive, cost $5,000-$10,000 a year or more. Most PUBLIC
school systems spend about 3 times that $2000 figure or more. Those $2000 a
year vouchers aren't an alternative, they're an insult. The politicians who
impose this kind of garbage should be REQUIRED to send their children to
schools restricted to that kind of amount per child for a year or two.

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