Unfortunately I was buried in research over the past week, which not only slowed down my usual production of posts but, worse yet, means I missed the fact that the Fraser Institute had released its long-awaited B.C. Elementary School Report Card. Interestingly, press coverage wasn’t nearly as positive as it usually is (or as negative as it should have been). Maybe it’s because of the fact that they work for the tobacco industry, pad their editorial board with dead people, or think that polygamist communities have the brightest students.
In any case, since I’ve weighed in on the Report Cards before, and they don’t seem to have changed any, I see no reason to go into much detail explaining my belief that they are idiotic. I stand by my advice to parents: tell your grade 7 children to try and answer as many questions wrong as possible. Holding them back from writing the test counts as an absentee black mark in the Fraser Institute’s rankings. The best thing to do is to try and sabotage the process as much as possible, making the statistical results meaningless.
I will, in the meantime, highlight a couple things that amused me this year:
Good Education Costs Money — The Fraser Institute says the best schools are private schools, which may well be true. But if you want your child to get a secular education at a #1 school, be prepared to shell out anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 per year. That’s in addition to the thousands of dollars in subsidies given to private schools by the government. Basically, what the statistics say is that the more you spend on education, the better off you’ll be. The Fraser Institute downplays this, naturally, because not everyone has an extra $50,000 a year.
Rich Kids Fail… — The Fraser Institute has developed a mysterious “calculation” that will tell them whether a school is doing better or worse than what their socioeconomic status says they should be. They say that “only 20%” of school performance is determined by this, but I have to wonder. You’ll be interested to know, for instance, that Caulfield School flunked out of the socioeconomic test, despite turning in a respectable 9.2/10, because the Institute claims that with an average parental income of $242,000, Caulfield’s students should have turned in a preposterous score of 11.6/10.
I’m in favour of beating up on rich kids as much as the next woman, but this is a bit rich. None of the authors are teachers. If they were, would they expect their students to have scores that exceed 100%?
… But Not as Badly as Poor Kids — The Fraser Institute grading system is harsh on rich kids, but it’s even harsher on poor kids. They’re grading on a curve, rather than a scale, which means that some schools are always going to “fail,” even in a perfect world. Since that’s the case, you might think that since the richest kids are supposed to do better than 10/10, the poorer children would be expected to place very, very low scores.
You’d be wrong. The poorest school in the province was William Konkin, in Nechako Lakes district, where parents earned just $18,400. And the Fraser Institute still expected them to turn in a score of score of 4.5/10. Now, you might think that the difference between a family with an income of $18,000 (“score”: 4.5) and $120,000 (“score”: 7.8) would be proportionately a hell of a lot greater than the difference between a family with that $120,000 income and another with an income of $240,000 (11.8). Seeing as how they’re earning ten times more. Again, you’d be wrong.
Funding for the Fraser Institute Report Card was provided by the wealthy family that runs the Hecht Foundation. Funding for this review was provided by nobody.Tweet