Social Programs That Work is the headline of a column in today’s New York Times that lauds the Obama administration for insisting on research and evidence before it supports social programs.
Give me a break, please.
I have nothing against the programs the author of the column cites and, in fact, they sound like pretty good ones. And I don’t have a problem with the idea of just supporting “evidence-based” programs (as long as the criteria for success is not a reasonable and not unnecessarily narrow — like only standardized test score improvement for school programs).
But the Obama Administration has not had any interest at all in using evidence to support its pet school reform strategies — using test scores to evaluate teachers, insisting that states adopt Common Core standards, the interventions required for School Improvement grants, and the list could go on….
I spoke about this very issue in a podcast with Dana Goldstein last year on class size, saying that even though research is very, very favorable towards the use of smaller classes, it is true that perhaps not all the i’s are dotted or all the t’s crossed on it. However, I suggested, I get irritated when that is used by some school reformers as an excuse not to support it while at the same time they push school policies that have next to no research that support them! (you can listen to that podcast here).
If you’d like to learn more how “un-evidence-based” the Obama Administration’s education policies are, check out: