Monday, March 4, 2013

When data conflicts with a political agenda, who wins?

On January 16, 2013, Governor Snyder, in his state of the state address, said the following:

Only 17 percent of our kids are college ready.

This is a consistent message that the Governor gives. He hammers again and again that only 17% of Michigan's high school seniors are college ready. He has said it many times.

But it is just not true.

No matter how many times he says it, the Governor is wrong.

On the Governor's dashboard - MI School Data (www.mischooldata.org) - 75% of the 2010 graduates - the latest year for which numbers are available - enrolled in college within 16 months of graduation. (Here's a link that shows the numbers - click on the "percentage" link.)

On the Governor's dashboard - MI School Data - the latest figures show that less than 30% need remedial courses in college in any subject. Indeed, the numbers show that less than 8% need remedial courses in reading, less than 13% need remedial courses in writing, and less than 22% need remedial courses in math.

If Governor Snyder's numbers were accurate then fully 83% of students would need remedial work.

Why would the Governor try to sell an idea that clearly is not true?

He has a political agenda that requires him to try and show that public schools are not doing the job. This would allow him to sell his idea that other forms of education - commercialized, for-profit companies and his Educational Achievement Authority - are needed to provide the kind of education that Michigan students need.

But the data refute the Governor. It appears that the Governor is not looking at the data or is choosing to ignore the data.

What happens when data conflicts with a political agenda? It appears that the political agenda wins.

The Governor could be selling that Michigan's public schools do a great job of educating students. The Governor could be trumpeting than businesses should invest in Michigan because we have an educated population that would help businesses succeed.

But the Governor is not doing that.

That is - to put it mildly - unfortunate.

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