Friday, June 15, 2012

Setting the Record Straight

The conversation about school choice has been making the rounds in national media lately, following Mitt Romney's inclusion of a voucher proposal in his recently-unveiled education plan, large expansions in Louisiana and Arizona, and the creation of new programs in places like Virginia and the aforementioned Bayou State.

It has all resulted in a crush of media attention, all of which has not been accurate, fair, or unbiased.

Instead of focusing on the evidence showing the benefits of school choice, many editorial boards and reporters have taken to conveying many of the common myths of school choice. But our resident myth-buster, senior advisor Kevin P. Chavous, has made short work of their claims in exposing the truth about choice.

In fact, here’s what Kevin wrote in yesterday’s Boston Globe, in response to a Globe editorial earlier this month:
The Globe’s June 2 editorial “ Romney’s education plan offers serious, debate-worthy proposals” strongly mischaracterized current voucher programs in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., as yielding “unimpressive results.” The evidence of success of these programs can be clearly seen in the graduation rates of participating students.  
The D.C. voucher program is especially impressive on that indicator. The US Department of Education evaluation of the program found that students who used the vouchers graduated at a rate of 91 percent, more than 30 points higher than the graduation rates of D.C. public school students. An evaluation of the Milwaukee program also found higher graduation rates, and that students are more likely to enroll and persist in a four-year college than their public school peers. 
Furthermore, the D.C. voucher program boosted student reading scores, and students in the Milwaukee program showed improvement in both reading and science. 
For thousands of low-income families across the nation, school choice is a lifeline that rescues children from failing schools and struggling districts. As the bipartisan coalition supporting these initiatives expands, it’s important that politicians, parents, and citizens have a clear picture of the benefits of choice for families in need.
But that's not all. Kevin has also published responses to unfair stories in the New York Times and in a local Louisiana publication in response to a recent Reuters piece about the expansions in Louisiana. He's also worked feverishly to respond to a host of other stories that have appeared in recent weeks, and we'll be sure to share those with you when they're published, too.

In short, there's a lot of work being done out there by opponents to mischaracterize choice programs around the nation, and they have a very large platform on which to do it.

But rest assured that we'll always be willing to stand up and state the truth, defend against unfair attacks, and seek to make our voices heard in the same pages where the myths are being printed.

Rest assured that we'll always work hard to set the record straight.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG & MSG

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