07 June, 2014

Reihan Salam’s piece on education spending is condescending, wrong | Fredrik deBoer

Reihan Salam’s piece on education spending is condescending, wrong | Fredrik deBoer: Now it happens that there is no such thing as private school pedagogy that’s distinct from public school pedagogy. Private school teachers often attend the same college programs as public school teachers, teach from the same collection of textbooks, give the same sort of tests. They are often exempt from the manic standardized testing that public school teachers have to participate in, freeing up class time, so there’s that, I guess. But it’s not like there’s some secret lesson plans that get passed around only between private schools. And here’s another dirty secret: there frequently isn’t a big difference in the day-to-day administrations of private schools, either. Oh, you can fire a teacher easier in your average private school. But there’s absolutely no reputable evidence to suggest that this is why private schools seem to have better educational outcomes than public schools. There is, on the other hand, an argument that has been supported by decades of responsible studies from thousands of responsible researchers: student demographics are more powerful determinants of educational outcomes than teachers or schools. And private schools systematically exclude the hardest-to-educate students, through high tuitions, entrance exams, and opaque selection processes. For these schools, the fact that the hardest-to-educate kids can’t attend is a feature, not a bug.