Saturday, July 15, 2006

Follow-up on Public/Private Comparisons
The Depressing Truth
By Matthew Yglesias

Well, events abroad are pretty depressing on their own. Nevertheless, I think this study comparing private schools to public schools is pretty depressing as well. What it shows, roughly, is that once you implement standard demographic controls, kids in private schools do about as well (or as poorly) as kids in public schools. The good news is that this offers a solid talking point against school vouchers, thus bolstering everyone's ability to adhere to the liberal orthodoxy in good conscience.

The bad news is that this once again highlights what seems to me to be the depressing truth about education: Once you control for demographic factors, nothing seems to make a dramatic difference. The trouble here, obviously, is that it would be really fantastic to implement some education reforms of some sort that would dramatically improve poor and minority students' performance. But there don't seem to be any really great solutions in the offing. That, in turn, highlights the vital importance of trying to directly tackle poverty and inequality rather than hoping that the school system -- even an improved version of it -- can redress inequities that arise elsewhere in the social and economic system.

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