Monday, May 14, 2007

School Choice and Political Knowledge

There's an interesting report out today that suggests that kids who attend schools based on choice (either private or choice within a system) do better on all kinds of stuff, from civic engagement to political knowledge. The actual study is here.

This is a meta analysis of other research. Basically you take a bunch of studies on the same topic and through statistical analysis look to see if the effect is "robust" across all studies. The author argues this is the case and, I suspect, he is right.

And yet ...

Coincidence alert. School choice comes off well here. The author is, ahem, "professor of education reform and 21st Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions." Gee, find that suspicious? A coincidence? Nah!
Just turn off that BS detector. It'll keep you awake at night.

None of this is surprising. Private (er, sorry, choice) students come from families that are more involved, better educated, and provide greater resources to their children -- thus these kids come off better in tests of political knowledge or even volunteerism (how else you gonna get into the National Honor Society?).

The author says, "In summary, the empirical studies to date counter the claims of school choice opponents that private schooling inherently and inevitably undermines the fostering of civic values." I couldn't agree more. But what I suspect is different are the reasons behind volunteerism and other civic values. The study leaves this unanswered.

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