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But school average scores notoriously reveal more about the backgrounds of children who attend a school than they do about how much those children are learning. A school that caters largely to impoverished children will have lower scores than a mostly middle class school even if those children are showing great improvement over time.
More critically, average scores reveal nothing at all about how any one child will do in a particular school. The foundational principle of school choice is that different children learn differently. One child may thrive in a non-structured environment. Another will learn more in a school with lower average scores but a more disciplined approach.
The Journal-Sentinel quotes Dorothy Smith, who chose three different schools for her children based on their different needs. “Some kids need a little more umph than other kids,” she sensibly observed.
Parents know this, and they aren’t looking for the school with the highest scoring students. They are looking for the school at which their child will score the highest. That these are two completely different things is what the Journal-Sentinel — and all those who think testing and sanctions can outperform choice — seem not to understand.
THE SERIES ENDS WITH a call for “clearer and better answers” about how the MPCP schools are serving students, the mantra of those who want to condition the program’s expansion on the addition of bureaucratic weights and measures.
If the Journal-Sentinel reporters are right, then perhaps 10 percent of the MPCP schools are not doing the job they might. But over 20 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools are now “in need of improvement” under the No Child Left Behind Act. If these numbers mean something, they mean that a parent-driven market is about twice as good at eliminating poor schools as the public system. If they mean nothing, then parents are right to choose schools in a subtler, more subjective way.
Milwaukee’s voucher kids are doing all right. The market is a dynamic process, and school closings, like flu symptoms, are a sign that the MPCP naturally resists poor quality. Wisconsin lawmakers should ease the enrollment cap on its flagship school choice law without regulating away the variety it needs to succeed.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?