Matt Yglesias had an amusing item
this morning, mocking Jonah Goldberg for arguing
that the media steered clear of embarrassing FDR photos "because the press almost unanimously agreed that -- despite the huge news value -- depicting FDR as a cripple would be bad for the war effort." Since Roosevelt had polio when he took office in 1933, and World War II didn't start until 1941, Yglesias is able to deduce -- using arithmetic -- that perhaps Goldberg is confused.
But as long as we're having fun at Goldberg's expense, let's also take a moment to review his recent LA Times op-ed
, in which he recommended eliminating the national public school system and replacing it with a private system, subsidized through vouchers.
Consider Washington, home of the nation's most devoted government-lovers and, ironically, the city with arguably the worst public schools in the country. [...]
Private, parochial and charter schools get better results. Parents know this.
Condemning the nation's public schools by cherry-picking one troubled school district seems like the basis for a poor argument. For that matter, it's hardly an apples-to-apples comparison -- private schools in DC can discriminate against applicants based on everything from test scores to behavioral problems, while public schools in DC have to take everyone.
But even if we put all of that aside and consider Goldberg's argument at face value, he still runs into empirical trouble
: "Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally performed no better on reading and math tests after one year in the program than their peers in public schools, the U.S. Education Department said."
And what about Goldberg's contention that charter schools also perform better? Well, Bush's Education Department found that charter schools nationwide under-perform
, with test scores showing "charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools." (The Bush administration responded to the report by announcing it would sharply cut back
on the information it collects about charter schools.)
Try again, Jonah.