Choice Irony

Why is it that the most serious critiques of school choice, for instance this recent Sol Stern debate but also work by AEI’s Rick Hess or UVA’s E.D. Hirsch comes not from the opponents but from those who are actually sympathetic to choice?

6 Replies to “Choice Irony”

  1. Well, if you only read Hess, Hirsch and the rest of the same old, same olds, you will only hear their voices. Think tank reports, commentaries, and whatnot have their place, but pick up an impartially peer-reviewed journal from time to time. If you think Education Next counts as a peer-reviewed journal, then you’re probably hopeless. There is great research out there that is very critical of market-oriented solutions, but shoddy research from the likes of Peterson, Greene and company tends to get all the air play. Pundits don’t incorporate this stronger research into their work or aren’t aware of it in the first place.

  2. Nice try Heartland Wonk but but both Petersen and Greene have published school choice work in peer review journals.

    Not that anyone actually submits to the torture of reading peer review journals, mind you, but just in case they have published in them.

  3. The vast majority of their work is not peer-reviewed, as are most of the papers they cite. More importantly, virtually all of their work is very heavily criticized on methodological grounds. Yes, they have published a paper or two in respectable journals, but they make their strongest claims in papers that go straight to the web. Seriously folks, look at the methods. Or just admit that your position is ideologically driven and the research findings mean nothing to you.

  4. More importantly, virtually all of their work is very heavily criticized on methodological grounds.

    What crap. There’s plenty of peer-reviewed research that is “heavily criticized” on methodological grounds as well, and there are plenty of partisan hacks within the education research community who are all too happy to come up with nitpicky reasons to ignore the results from randomized experiments re: vouchers.

  5. So, “virtually all” of the research of admitted voucher advocates is criticized on methodological grounds, and you’re defense is “well, other people get criticized sometimes too.” That’s not much of a defense, norskie.

    Sure, some peer-reviewed work faces methodological critique, but it passes a basic threshold test for quality. Most school choice advocacy research faces no such test. A lot of their randomized studies have major problems with small sample sizes, significant attrition, comparing apples and oranges, inconsistent use of data, manipulation of variables, and misrepresentation of previous research. Such critiques are not “nitpicking”. Those issues are the bread and butter of quality research.

    Petersen’s case is particularly unfortunate because his earlier work in urban poli sci and ed policy is so important and influential. And now he’s a laughingstock, sometimes called a “choice-nik”. Too bad

  6. No, I’m not admitting that these “methodological” critiques of voucher research are valid. My point is that the vague and unsubstantiated claim that “there are critiques” is meaningless. In fact, the critiques you mention are brought forth by the typical partisan hacks who are determined to find flaws no matter what.

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