Thursday, February 21, 2013

The School Staffing Surge hits the Bunkum trifecta

The “Three’s a Harm” Award, a National Education Policy Center (NEPC) 2012 Bunkum Award for truly dreadful educational research, goes to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice’s report The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools. This think tank is a past Bunkum winner, and this time it has truly outdone itself.

The School Staffing Surge hits the Bunkum trifecta with its inaccurate information, erroneous reasoning, and sheer audacity. According to the report, public school test scores and dropout numbers did not improve between 1992 and 2009, notwithstanding a doubling of school staffing. NEPC’s reviewer refutes these claims and actually point to a clear improvement in scores for all student subgroups, particularly students of color and younger students. Moreover, graduation rates increased, helping to raise college attendance to historic highs.

Based on its flawed research, the report makes unsupported recommendations; it calls for cuts in administrative and teaching staff, for increased school choice, and for class size increases. Yet as the reviewer points out, U.S. public school classes are already larger than those in the private schools the Friedman Foundation touts. “Smaller class sizes are apparently only bad and wasteful when they are in public schools,” said Kevin Welner, director of NEPC.

But the chutzpah doesn’t stop there. The report then sets forth its recommendations, including the obligatory call for increased school choice – which has little if anything to do with the report’s data.

Read the review at:

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