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Tuesday, January 24, 2006 

Touched a Nerve?

It looks like the Doyle camp is in crisis mode over the school choice issue. Xoff came running to the aid of our besieged governor recently, and now the Marquette campus Xoff Jr.'s have as well. Ryan Alexander of Campus Tavern has taken issue with my critique of Doyle's plan (as well as Prof. McAdams' critique) in a post titled "McAdams and Eminent Domain Fail This Test". You mean that I failed to convince Alexander that a Jim Doyle policy is a bad idea?! Hang on, I need to recover from this shock.

There, I'm better now.

Let's take a look at what Alexander has to say...
McAdams, Eminent Domain, and the proposed Republican law to "solve" the voucher problem in Milwaukee all demand that instead of lifting the cap from 15% to 18%, that the enrollment cap be eliminated all together which is just another way of saying that the Milwaukee will have a full blown voucher system with vouchers going to everyone-—the poor, the rich, and everyone in between.
Yeah, it sure would be horrible for all people of all income levels to have the same choices and opportunities when it comes to their children's education. Or we could just keep paying $11,334 per student per year into a school system that isn't getting the job done.

I'm willing to bet that even if Green or Walker were to become Governor and even if the Republicans retained control of the state legislature, that even they would not institute a full blown voucher system in Milwaukee (despite whatever their campaign promises are).
Too bad. They should.

Alexander takes issue with my criticism of Doyle's testing requirement for the voucher schools...
So how do McAdams, Eminent Domain, and other Republicans attack Governor Doyle's practical and logical plan for the voucher program to keep the issue deadlocked? By arguing that requiring voucher schools to administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, while good intentioned, would somehow reduce the number of voucher schools, cause schools to change their curriculum, or worse the test would impose political correctness on students or ask them questions about homosexuality and birth control.
He then produces this information about voucher schools and standardized tests...
According to the survey results, 64 of the schools say they administer the Iowa Test of Basic Skills; 40 the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (which is used by public schools in the state); 33 the Terra Nova; and 22 another exam. Nine schools reported that they do not administer any standardized test.
Alexander claims that this shows that standardized tests place no additional burden on voucher schools, so they shouldn't have a problem with Doyle's plan. "...[W]hat is the deal?" he asks.

Hey, Alexander. You see that thing that just went by? It was "the point" and you missed it.

The voucher schools got to pick their test. They got to decide which standardized test best measured the curriculum at their individual school. Doyle's plan implements mandatory WKCE standardized testing. That means one test; no options. That's the problem that I have with Doyle's testing requirement. You are forcing schools to adopt a test picked by Jim "WEAC owns me" Doyle. If only 40 of choice schools chose that test, then that means that 128 of choice schools felt that the WKCE wasn't the proper test for their school. Maybe you ought to let them run their own schools.

I found this comment interesting...
Now, I'’ll admit that I am not the product of Wisconsin public schools and the last time I took a standardized test in school was in public middle school (and yes that means I went to private school for High School)
Hmm... private prep school decides that it is unnecessary to administer standardized tests in order to accurately measure the progress of their students. That's just fine with me. Milwaukee choice school decides that it is unnecessary to administer standardized tests in order to accurately measure the progress of their students. That's just fine with me too. Again, let the schools run themselves.

This is cute too...
I do not know for sure what the difference between the ITBS, the Terra Nova, and the WKCE are, but I'm betting that there isn't all that much of a difference aside from which grade levels the tests are assigned to.
Followed by...
So if almost all of the voucher schools administer a form of standardized test and the subject matter in all the tests is not only similar but made with the same basic goals in mind...
"I have no idea what's on the tests but they're all the same." If they are all the same, why do different schools choose different tests? If they are all the same, why is Doyle demanding that the schools only use one test, a test of his choosing?

Then there is this response to some of Prof. McAdams' comments...
This logic is clearly flawed because as I have shown already none of these tests "subvert the benign organizational culture of private schools"...
You didn't show that anywhere in your post. You just made a claim and failed to back it up with any evidence other than what you "think". Your post was heavy on rhetoric (yeah, that's shocking...) and light on proof.

If I were a Doyle supporter, I'd be frantic too. There is a lot of pressure to end the cap. The radio campaign, in part led by that arch-conservative Mikel Holt, has been gaining support. Milwaukee County DA E. Michael McCann has even cut a radio ad calling Doyle out on the issue. He's no Republican. Business leaders like restaurant king Johnny Vassallo have also urged Doyle to expand school choice. If Doyle was smart, he would just raise the cap without all of his little conditions. That would defuse the issue. But he won't. He can't. WEAC won't allow it.

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  • I'm Steve
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  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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