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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

School study draws doubt

School study draws doubt:
Some local officials criticize UNC look at Forsyth students

The head of the local chapter of the NAACP said yesterday that he doubts a recent study showing that school choice has had no effect on test scores of students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. "I just find it hard to believe that that's true because, from what I've seen, what my group has been coming up with, is if you put a group together with the same advantages, it enhances those advantages," said Steven Hairston, the president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The study, a doctoral dissertation by Hinckley A. Jones-Sanpei at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, looked at the effect of school choice on students' educational achievement in Forsyth County. Dennis K. Orthner, a professor of public policy at UNC and Jones-Sanpei's adviser, presented her work to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board Tuesday night. Jones-Sanpei has moved out of state since getting her doctorate in public policy, he said.

Orthner said he knew that the results would be controversial because they are different from what people have seen after analyzing the effects of school choice and segregation in other communities. Jones-Sanpei used scores on state tests in reading and mathematics from elementary- and middle-school students. In her study, Jones-Sanpei looked at 11,000 students between 1992 and 2002, which spanned the period of time before, during and after school choice began in 1995. Students had to have several years of consecutive test scores in schools in the system to be included. Her study, which was done without the knowledge of the school system using publicly available data, was reviewed by several other professors as part of the doctoral-degree process. Jones-Sanpei looked at the different factors that affected the scores, including students' race, gender and socioeconomic status, then isolated the effect that school choice had on their achievement.

"There's almost no change in student test scores that can be attributed to school choice," Orthner said. "It did not appear that the racial configuration of the school was the big predictor. It's not the racial configuration of the school, it's a whole bunch of other things."

Danielle Deaver for the Winston-Salem Journal

Interesting article, but I wish that Deaver would've gone on to list the "whole bunch of other things" that Orthner said the study showed. Digging a bit deeper would've made this article complete and far more informative. Oh, well. Maybe next time.


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