The Miseducation of the New York Times

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Jason Bedrick has the latest on the Times’s determined effort to cast charter schools in Michigan as a mark against Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. I’ve written about this twice before, and the liberal misrepresentations keep getting worse. Let’s rewind the tape.

Here are some of the conclusions of a study:

Based on the findings presented here, the typical student in Michigan charter schools gains more learning in a year than his [traditional public school] counterparts, amounting to about two months of additional gains in reading and math. These positive patterns are even more pronounced in Detroit, where historically student academic performance has been poor. These outcomes are consistent with the result that charter schools have significantly better results than [traditional public schools] for minority students who are in poverty. 

The study found that 47 percent of Detroit charter schools significantly outperformed traditional public schools on reading and 49 percent of charters significantly outperformed traditionals on math. One percent of charters significantly underperformed on reading and 7 percent on math. For the rest, the study found no significant difference. 

Here’s how Douglas Harris spun the study in an op-ed for the Times: “One well-regarded study found that Detroit’s charter schools performed at about the same dismal level as its traditional public schools.”

Now the Times has an editorial that claims that in Detroit, “charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.” Its link shows it to be relying on Harris.

It’s a crafty sentence: The study really does find that charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes perform worse. The Times is just omitting that the study’s main conclusion was that a lot of charter schools significantly outperform traditional schools. It’s like a game of telephone being conducted by propagandists.

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