Our government is infested with teachers' interest groups. Liberals are dedicated to the proposition that only liberals should teach any children. They are currently fighting every voucher and charter plan with every legal argument they can. Additionally they are now trying to convince people that private and public schools achieve the same results. This article from Slate presents a few books that have come out lately about how private and charter schools don't do better than public schools when controlled for a, b, and c*.
Do not fall for this trick. Statistics are a distraction from the main issue of charters and vouchers. NAEP test, SAT scores, AP results or any other standardized test scores are not the main point. They are important, but they are not the main issue. At heart is:
Who knows best how my children will best be served - me, my local school board, the state government, or the national government? Teachers unions are fond of pointing out that all students are different and so teachers should not be evaluated based on the group of students they were dealt. If all students are different then shouldn't it be up to those who know my boys best to determine whether they do best in a strict/permissive, boys only/coed, secular/religious education? I believe my boys will best be served in a highly structured, single gender, religious school (my boys are easily distracted, and when they eventually notice girls...). Even if test scores are lower on average in that sort of school (and they aren't) I still believe my boys will do a much better job of learning self-control and respect for others in this environment. I value self-control and respect higher than an extra 20 SAT points and so I should be able to select those preferentially for my boys while allowing other parents to make other arrangements for their children (as I am sure Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner value self-control and respect less than I do).
David Parker went to jail and his 6 year old son was beaten on the playground in the presence of teachers (who were "around the corner"), all because David wanted to opt his kindergartner out of homosexual education. Should the money collected for David's children go to the school that had him arrested and allowed his 6 year old to be beaten by 8 other kids? The issue is whether as parents we should have the ability to direct the funds that the government has collected on behalf of our children's education. Test scores, facilities, "shared experience," teacher's rights, equality, those are all secondary. Do not get distracted:
Should you have a say in how the money collected by the government for the benefit of your child is spent? If it is a section 8 voucher you do. If it is a SNAP card you do. If it is welfare you do. If it is Medicaid you do. If it is withheld child support you do. If it is SSI for a deceased spouse you do. If it is a PELL grant you do. If it is k-12 educational funding you should. Education is less important than food or shelter. If a family can be trusted with a SNAP card or Section 8 voucher then they should be trusted with a school voucher. The point is not test scores, it is freedom.
*P.S. The books are likely wrong about the educational outcomes, they can only reach their conclusions after correcting for things like parental involvement. When you get that type of correction it is equivalent to "I am going to add something here to shift the numbers where ever I jolly want them to be." However, the point of this post is that even if they are right I don't care. If my boys earn a perfect SAT score but believe that lowering tax rates subsidies the wealthy then their education was a failure. If they score in the 99th percentile but believe that homosexual unions are the same as marriage then their education was a failure. If they learn 6 languages but have no ability to respect others then their education was a failure.