The Times Lauds Rigorous Education Evaluations, Doesn’t Mention Obama Ignoring Them

Jason Richwine, National Review, September 4, 2013

The New York Times had an excellent article Tuesday about the Department of Education’s growing support for randomized experiments evaluating evaluate educational programs. Here’s the money quote:

Most programs that had been sold as effective had no good evidence behind them. And when rigorous studies were done, as many as 90 percent of programs that seemed promising in small, unscientific studies had no effect on achievement or actually made achievement scores worse.

These results are a firm rebuke to politicians who want an education policy based on platitudes. With any luck, the rise of experimental evaluation may also straighten out the educational romanticists who believe that getting the U.S. to the top of the international rankings is just a matter of finding a breakthrough intervention—pushing the right buttons and pulling the right levers to, say, turn Detroit into Singapore.

As good as it is, though, the Times article omits a crucial fact: The Obama administration has ignored rigorous evaluations when the results are politically inconvenient.

Take Head Start. Experimental evidence has repeatedly shown that Head Start has essentially no impact on children’s cognitive or social development by the time they reach first grade. But right after last fall’s third-grade follow-up again showed no impact, the administration proposed to increase funding for Head Start, citing the “success” of the program!

The transcripts of White House press briefings show that not a single reporter asked why tax dollars would continue to be spent on an ineffective program. {snip}

Obama has also pushed for expanding federal involvement in preschool. What the media rarely mentioned during that debate is that none of the preschool programs Obama wanted to support had been subject to experimental evaluation. Why were reporters so quiet?


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  • Whoa. Jason Richwine in NR? Rich Lowry must be on a long vacation. Hurry up and get some more taboo truth in the pages of NR while you still can, Richwine, before Lowry gets back and purges you.

    why tax dollars would continue to be spent on an ineffective program

    Because it gives jobs to black women. And therefore, it’s effective.

    • sbuffalonative

      The problems originate with the ‘progressive’ liberal eggheads (and I mean egghead in a bad way) who come up with absurd theory after theory and somehow gain access to retarded politicians who see every new theory as THE breakthrough they’ve been waiting for.

      Theory after failed theory after failed theory. Every theory is nothing more than a desperate attempt to deny the realities of race, genes, and intelligence.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        Oakland Public Schools experimented with teaching in ebonics/English hoping to improve blacks’ low test scores and high drop out stats.
        The argument stated that black kids taught in proper English were not ‘getting it’ because of language disparities between home, hood, and classroom.
        Allegedly, it worked, but no studies were cited. Hence, no accountability for outcome.
        The project was met with much derision by people who can see and eventually deep sixed.

    • jane johnson

      Glad to see Richwine is working AND unrepentant. You’re right about Headstart being a jobs program for otherwise unemployable blacks, but it goes much further, and higher, than the so-called teachers who work in the centers. It is just one of many programs, including VPK, that is run by Marc Morial’s (a real piece of work) Urban League, which gets billions of our tax dollars, and is solely for the benefit of blacks. Our local Headstart is seeking new management since the UL has been cited for health, safety, and fraud violations in its administration of the program. These early education programs may be ineffectual for their stated purpose of closing that nasty achievement gap, but they’re smashingly successful at redistributing wealth (a LOT of it), and loading up that fake black middle class with even more incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats and administrators.

  • Spartacus

    “…pushing the right buttons and pulling the right levers to, say, turn Detroit into Singapore.”


    You can’t turn Detroit into Singapore, they’re much too different people/races. Jesus, how retarded are these people ? Sometimes I wonder if they’re pretending or not…

    • The folks that write bilge like this cannot possibly be paying attention.

  • APaige

    Is it true that the U.S has spent more money on Head Start than on the Apollo Program? Any answer and/or link would be greatly appreciated.

    • Head Start: $150 billion spent in real terms from inception to 2010

      Apollo: $25 billion spent in real terms in its 1961-1972 lifetime, translates roughly to $100 billion today

      • JohnEngelman

        The money we have wasted in futile efforts to bring blacks up to our standards of performance could have been spend establishing a colony on Mars.

      • APaige

        Thank-you very much for the response. So the U.S spent $50 billion less for multiple moon missions than for closing the Pre-K to first grade and beyond ‘gap.’

  • sbuffalonative

    One might ask why the reporters gave so much credence to the theory that Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ was the cause of black failure while Obama’s ‘Race (get it, RACE) to the Top’ has proven no better and yet receives no criticism.

  • JohnEngelman

    Those who wait for an educational program that will bring blacks up to white standards remind me of those who wait for the second coming of Christ. No amount of previous disappointment dampens their hope for the near future.

    • MBlanc46

      “This time, for sure.”

      • CoweringCoward

        No doubt COMRADE!

    • CoweringCoward

      Where in the hell did you get two down votes for stating the glaringly obvious?

      • JohnEngelman

        Some posters reflexively vote me down because of my high regard for Jews and Orientals. I have been voted down for quoting Jared Taylor, without adding editorial comments.

    • CoweringCoward

      I too draw some ire for similar reasons, well not the Jew thing.

  • bigone4u

    No nation infested with black and brown vermin will ever be at the top of the rankings for anything good. We will slowly reach the top in rape, poverty, crime, murder, and stupidity, as our once glorious land is turned into a cesspitt.

    • CoweringCoward

      As we learn from Boxer(animal farm fame), we whites just need to “work harder”, as the uptopia of lore is just over that next hilltop, if we can just carry the load there!

  • MBlanc46

    Neither side in political debate is very good at dealing with empirical fact. When it’s anything to do with race, the soi-disant left believes in Sugar Candy Mountain.

    • JohnEngelman

      People of any persuasion tend to reject empirical facts that conflict with what they want to believe. I do this too, but I try not to.

      • MBlanc46

        It’s a natural human tendency. I have to admit, it to me decades to finally fully accept the biological bases of behavior.

        • CoweringCoward

          You have to admit thought, that once you come to that realization, the world makes a hell of a lot more sense doesn’t it? Occam’s Razor comes to mind.

          • MBlanc46

            When I was a youth, hardly anyone had heard of DNA. The blank slate hypothesis still couldn’t be clearly disconfirmed. It’s only been in recent decades that real evidence for the biological basis of many behaviors has been adduced.

        • JohnEngelman

          When it comes to racial differences liberals are still lost in the sixties. Their minds are full of the myth and legend of the civil rights movement. They love to think of peaceful saintly demonstrators beaten up by racist mobs, the March on Washington, the “I Have a Dream Speech,” and all that. They have read fiction by James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and others.

          They desperately want to believe that blacks are unoffensive victims of irrational color prejudice.

          They will disbelieve in the multiplication tables before they consider the possibility that the advocates of black slavery and legally sanctioned slavery were right after all.

          • Puggg

            They will disbelieve in the multiplication tables

            3 x 4 = 11 in Common Core. Haven’t you heard?

          • JohnEngelman

            Those who teach blacks are pressured to adopt more flexible standards.

  • Guest

    Remember, Apollo lasted 11 years, 1961-1972, and probably the bulk of the $25 billion we spent on it was back loaded in the latter years. A dollar spent in 1961 translates roughly to more in today’s money than a dollar spent in 1972 translates to today’s money. One other thing we have to remember is that $150 billion on Head Start in total was a figure that came out three years ago; we have spent money on it since then and continue to do so. We’re not spending a penny more on the Apollo program.

  • M&S

    Jim Z.
    So what are the palliative solutions when we have diagnosed the sickness?
    I would say the first move has got to be isolating the brilliant and the middle road from the low ability students in a situation which is exclusively conducive to their respective learning abilities as aptitudes.
    And it must be said that not all abilities are going to be evenly distributed, even by nominal IQ rating.
    You want to buy into a child’s mind, you have to first give them, not sunshine-up-skirt ‘encouragement’ but real _proof_ that they can see, that the not-bored, not-struggling-just-to-follow, aptitude is there.
    You must then provide learning environments where each student’s lesson creates an aha! moment for others so that they see a new way something can be done.
    None of which is possible if the teachers is spending 20-30% more time teaching fundamentals or other-language remedialization to students in the bottom half of the class.
    This fundamentally means that _whites must teach whites only_. And they must do it in teacher:student ratios small enough to rewards competent instruction rather than mass production cookie cuttering.
    Since a teacher in a small home or charter school is unlikely to have broad competencies at the level needed to keep an interested but unchallenged student learning, I would further suggest that learning be further broken down into subject areas that are generalist (three Rs) and specialized, online, learning environments where anything up to college level understanding is taught. And multiple Student Assistants are standing by to give students work-thru answers to questions that they don’t have to ‘raise a hand’ (among thousands if not millions) to question.
    The number of relevant questions as intelligent understandings to the teacher’s instructional method (no sudden chat-surge as topic transitions leave the students stumbling) setting both the student and instructors rating levels for the subject.
    I am also _deeply_ against makign a child prepare for the trip to school for 1-2 hours, locking him/her up in a constrained environment for 6 more and then sending him/her home with 4-5 hours more homework.
    If we don’t do that to adults, we have no right to ask it of children. Especially since group saturation is a great way to breed frenetic as much as bored pathologies of response that a student would never evoke if not for the stimulus and peer examples.
    If you need extra time, schedule more weeks in school. But give our children’s minds the rest they need to adequately process and encode learned data via a much shorter daily curriculum which includes more comprehensive ‘total package’ learning sets (all algebra, all trig, etc. etc.) through a couple classes each school day rather than 4-6.
    As I said, what are your ideas?