Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bu$hCo's Margaret Spellings ~ Educator

Reverend Al Sharpton and then Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer have recently been labeled "Educator" here yet now there's another. To the left you'll see Bu$hCo's Education Secretary Margaret Spellings speaking at the University of Houston, where she received her B.S. in Political Science in 1979. Since then they gave her an Honorary Doctorate. I find no honor in her once again at best missing, perhaps ignoring, and at worst twisting her own DOE's research.

The WaPo's Maria Glod and Bill Turque, focusing on DC's own Opportunity Scholarship Program, file Report Finds Little Gain From Vouchers. Here's their intro:

Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally did no better on reading and math tests after two years than public school ...

The findings mirror those in previous studies of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, passed by a Republican-led Congress in 2004 to place the District at the leading edge of the private school choice movement.

The DOE report came out yesterday. So what did Ms. Spellings do? She "renewed her call yesterday to preserve the program, stressing that it has shown promising achievement trends." Miss Margaret of course did essentially the same thing back in the summer of 2006. Reckon she tried to bury this research?

I'll give her credit though where credit is due. The way she frames the right's argument is more about emotions than rationality so maybe this student of politics and lobbying appreciates what Emory Professor Drew Westen is saying in the book he authored that I'm currently reading and via his Westen Strategies venture. The right might not be able to govern worth a damn but they sure can carry on the campaigns despite scarce evidence supporting their radicalism.

Still, it could just be that she's a liar. She's likely a loyal Bu$hie given her many, many years with Dubyah. In fact, I just stumbled across an older WaPo piece on her from March of 2001 that used her maiden name La Montagne. Tracking her choices of names is about as difficult as figuring out her role in the early days of The Reign of Error.

As an educator in voluntary exile, perhaps as exiled as one can be given my current profession, I did find this portion of the reporting interesting:

... among students who earned relatively high reading scores before the program started, those with scholarships progressed faster and are now about two months ahead of their peers.
I'll need to ponder that finding yet it might be that those higher performing kids most benefited from being in a setting that suited their abilities. "Researchers found gains in reading among some groups of scholarship recipients, although they said the bump could be due to statistical chance." appears in the WaPo reporting. Still, the bottom line is that Margaret Spellings is hardly suited to be called "educator" much less Secretary of Education. John Gunn

UPDATE - Late afternoon of June 17, 2008 - Testing doesn't always measure learning as many right wingers seem to think. Still, if they think it does, when the numbers suggest there's no measurable outcome to their approach once implemented, then I'm more than willing to at least share the data they so cherish.

No comments: