September 13, 2006

My students are smarter than ed-policy wonkish types (including me)

Tonight, my students have made fools of us all—or those of us who have talked and written and read about vouchers for the last 17 years, since the creation of the Milwaukee program. That's all. We've been talking about public-private comparisons, competition, sample attrition, and the like, and we've been forgetting about the complex, lived experiences of families who go between sectors, sometimes multiple times. We've been debating gold standards and platinum standards of research, drive-by research and how-sly research, and as far as I'm aware there is only one longitudinal study going on that follows a population of resident children through whatever schools they attend in an environment with vouchers. And in the focus on a limited set of questions and limited resources, there is an enormous amount of unused information from the IU study of the Cleveland voucher program.

As a research community, are we so devoid of imagination that the transition between sectors ends our involvement with a family in most of the voucher studies? Is our view of voucher research so sterile that we are more interested in proving a point than in describing lives?

And why should it take a few students in a masters class, relatively untrained in research, to point out the obvious?

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Posted in Education policy on September 13, 2006 10:05 PM |