When the Bush administration releases a report late on a Friday afternoon, missing the week’s major news cycles, you know it includes information that doesn’t benefit Bush’s agenda. And so it was recently when the U.S. Department of Education issued a report that shows children in public schools generally perform as well or better in reading and math than comparable children in private schools.
In comparing fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003, the report found fourth graders in public schools did significantly better in math than comparable fourth graders in private schools. Additionally, it found that students in conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind their counterparts in public schools in eighth-grade math. The study involved nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools.
The Bush administration first delayed releasing the report, produced by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and then released it without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, according to The New York Times.
The NCLBlog, produced by AFT, predicted the report would be released on a Friday and in a recent post, notes the report belies the Bush administration’s efforts to demonize public schools and channel taxpayer funds to private schools through vouchers. John at the NCLBlog writes:
"The study is good news for public schools, whose students do as well as private schools’ when background factors are taken into account. And it’s bad news for those who want to use tax dollars to send more and more kids to private schools via tuition tax credits and vouchers. Money would be better spent on proven reforms in the public schools attended by 90 percent of children."
The new report mirrors an earlier one funded by the Education Department, but not given official imprimatur, that found public school students outperformed students in charter schools and private schools when background characteristics such as race and ethnicity are taken into consideration.
No surprise, the Bush administration delayed release of that report, too.