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This Just in: Private School “Success” Is a Mirage Based on Demographics

July 27, 2018

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post is the only reliably accurate education reporter writing for a national newspaper, and her column in yesterday’s newspaper drives home the point that the so-called advantages of attending private schools are a fabrication promoted by those who want to privatize and/or re-segregate public schools. Her opening paragraphs lay out the facts rebutting the commonly held belief that private schools outperform public ones:

Despite evidence showing otherwise, it remains conventional wisdom in many parts of the education world that private schools do a better job of educating students, with superior standardized test scores and outcomes. It is one of the claims that some supporters of school choice make in arguing that the public should pay for private school education.

The only problem? It isn’t true, a new study confirms.

University of Virginia researchers who looked at data from more than 1,000 students found that all of the advantages supposedly conferred by private education evaporate when socio-demographic characteristics are factored in.There was also no evidence found to suggest that low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools benefit more from private school enrollment.

The results confirm what earlier research found but are especially important amid a movement to privatize public education — encouraged by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — based in part on the faulty assumption that public schools are inferior to private ones.

Ms. Strauss’ column goes on to emphasize that the findings of the UVA study are not an anomaly: they confirm earlier studies. As I read this column and others by Ms. Strauss, I can almost hear her pulling her hair out as she shouts; “What will it take to convince the public that public schools are doing well!”. As noted repeatedly in previous blog posts and by others in the anti-privatization movement, given the money that stands to be made if public schools are privatized and given that the corporate interests of the media coincide with the profiteers seeking to privatize public schools, I don’t expect the story to change until we find ourselves on the precipice of a disaster… a precipice I sense we are approaching with the appointment of Betsy DeVos, the election of her boss, and the support of the GOP.

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