Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Grouchy on vouchers this morning

Until now I was under the impression that Margaret Spellings was staying out of the voucher fray. But apparently she has been "sent by Bush" to "up the ante" in the "school choice battle" in New York.

Voucher proponents, like the New York Sun, love to conflate vouchers with charter schools as one big "school choice" movement. (Actually, their opponents do too.) This is useful when you either want to use one to build support for the other, or use one to do away with the other. But "school choice" is an outdated concept. Vouchers and charters have become two totally different "movements." Yes, there is some overlap, but it is mainly at the extremes, as charters have become much more mainstream.

In other bad journalism news, the headline of a somewhat anti-charter school piece in today's New York Times reads "Public vs. Private Schools: A New Debate." The print version of the headline is "Public vs. Charter Schools." Not sure which is worse -- the Times thinking that charter schools are not public schools or the Times thinking that they are private schools. And "a new debate?" As a colleague pointed out, the facilities issue is hardly a new debate.

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