I hope the teachers in America's public schools are more candid than their union officials and some of the public-education advocates and leftist smear groups who are criticizing my TV special "Stupid in America." They are promoting myths:
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) accused me of making a "sweeping generalization" about poor American student performance from test results from a few American and Belgian students. Nope. I reported the results from the actual International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. The little test ABC gave matched the PISA results.
MediaMatters, a liberal media watchdog group, claimed we fudged per-pupil spending numbers when we said per-pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, has doubled to "more than $10,000 per pupil per year." They point to the "most recent" 2003 U.S. Census figure of $8,019 per pupil as a "gotcha." In fact, the estimates for 2004-05 from the U.S. Department of Education are well over $10,000 per pupil. Even using MediaMatters' own number, it is irrefutable that per-pupil spending has doubled over the last 30 years.
The NSBA claims "America's public schools outperform private schools when variables ... are controlled." This must refer to the recent study done at the University of Illinois, comparing fourth- and eighth-grade math scores.
That study actually showed that public school students performed worse, but after the researchers used regression analysis to "control" for race/ethnicity, gender, disability, limited English proficiency, and school location, they manage to conclude that public school students outperform private and charter school students. When studying education performance, it is far more accurate to compare schools using random assignment -- using kids assigned schools by lottery so that those attending public and private schools come from the same population. Eight such random-assignment studies have been done. All eight find that private school students did better.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) objects that I "conveniently" failed to note that an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study found that "the six countries that spend the most on education as a percentage of GDP ... all score well above the international mean on the PISA."
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