More Clarity Doesn't Give Arne Duncan Free Pass on Voucher Study Release
When I wrote yesterday with questions about Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s handling of the release of the D.C. voucher study, I didn’t necessarily expect such a fast answer.
But former U.S. Department of Education official Russ Whitehurst has posted “Secretary Duncan Is Not Lying”. It’s a worthy read, and puts to rest the more extreme hypothesizing that Duncan knew about the positive results and intentionally hid them from Congress during the important debate on reauthorizing the program.
While it seems clear that extreme case isn’t true, Jay Greene also rightly observes that other unsettling issues remain:
Why did Duncan suppress the positive results in a Friday afternoon release with no publicity and a negative spin? Why falsely claim that the WSJ never attempted to contact him? The Secretary may well not be lying about his knowledge of the study but his credibility in general is very shaky right now.
I’m too young to really grasp it all, but it seems politics lies at the center of the controversy. The D.C. voucher issue raises the specter of divisions within the Democratic Party and therefore causes some adults discomfort. But downplaying the results of the research doesn’t serve either the kids in our nation’s capital who have scholarships or those who could benefit by receiving them.
After all, it was Duncan who said his department’s policy for supporting a reform idea or program would be: “It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.” Private school choice in D.C. works to improve kids’ reading skills. I assume we’re not against that.