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The Bush administration and Republican Congress created a limited voucher program for kids in Washington, D.C., which has one of the worst school systems in the U.S. This effort was opposed by, among others, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was one of the famed limousine liberals who sent his kids to expensive private schools while opposing giving poor families any choice in education. Indeed, he even launched a filibuster against District children when the idea was first proposed in 1997, calling the measure a “foolish ideological experiment.”
Sen. Kennedy was wrong. Patrick J. Wolf of the University of Arkansas explains:
The achievement results from the D.C. voucher evaluation are also striking when compared to the results from other experimental evaluations of education policies. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) at the IES has sponsored and overseen 11 studies that are RCTs, including the OSP evaluation. Only 3 of the 11 education interventions tested, when subjected to such a rigorous evaluation, have demonstrated statistically significant achievement impacts overall in either reading or math. The reading impact of the D.C. voucher program is the largest achievement impact yet reported in an RCT evaluation overseen by the NCEE. A second program was found to increase reading outcomes by about 40 percent less than the reading gain from the DC OSP. The third intervention was reported to have boosted math achievement by less than half the amount of the reading gain from the D.C. voucher program. Of the remaining eight NCEE-sponsored RCTs, six of them found no statistically significant achievement impacts overall and the other two showed a mix of no impacts and actual achievement losses from their programs. Many of these studies are in their early stages and might report more impressive achievement results in the future. Still, the D.C. voucher program has proven to be the most effective education policy evaluated by the federal government’s official education research arm so far.
This is the federal initiative which most helps improve educational achievement of the kids who most desperately need help. So the Democratic Congress naturally plans on killing it. When forced to choose between children and teachers’ unions, the Dems know to go with the folks who make campaign contributions. Sorry kids!
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