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Letter: Research used in recent column to support school choice reform is deeply flawed

Archuleta writes, "About that research, it is deeply flawed. The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado reviewed the 'research' referenced by Jackson and concluded, based on its methodological flaws and ignorance of 'peer-reviewed research that has found negative consequences of school choice reforms,' that: 'These shortcomings undermine the report’s conclusions and render it useless for purposes of guiding policymaking.'"

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Nick Archuleta
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I read with interest the latest letter to the editor by Jeremy Jackson calling for greater “education freedom” in North Dakota . Of equal interest was the “research” that he linked to in his letter. The research indicates that North Dakota ranks 44 out of 51 on something called an “Education Freedom Index of U.S. states,” and that a positive association exists between EFI and the National Assessment of Education Progress.

About that research, it is deeply flawed. The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado reviewed the “research” referenced by Jackson and concluded, based on its methodological flaws and ignorance of “peer-reviewed research that has found negative consequences of school choice reforms,” that: “These shortcomings undermine the report’s conclusions and render it useless for purposes of guiding policymaking.” You can read the entire NEPC review at https://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/education-freedom .

No matter the euphemism used to mask a voucher scheme – Opportunity Scholarships, Education Savings Accounts, Tuition Tax Credits – they have the same effect of taking monies raised for public education and other public services, and redirecting them to private and parochial schools, and homeschool parents.

North Dakota's great public schools are administered by locally-elected school boards, which are accountable for every dime of taxpayer money given to them. Should private schools and parochial schools receive state funds, would they be accountable in the same way? If memory serves, none of the seven voucher proposals considered and rejected by the ND Legislature over the last four sessions, referenced accountability for public funds.

In addition, public schools have a responsibility to educate every child that walks, runs, rolls or is carried through our schoolhouse doors, regardless of their physical or cognitive ability. Would private schools be held to that same standard? They are not held to it now.

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North Dakota United has just released the results of a member survey in which educators raise very real concerns about the political discourse around education and the lack of respect they feel . They are weary of the ideological battles that undermine the work that they have dedicated their lives to doing. The last thing they need is to do that work with fewer resources.

The fact is that there is school choice in North Dakota, and everyone should feel free to exercise that choice as they see fit. They should not, however, ask for public dollars to pay for their choice.

Nick Archuleta is president of North Dakota United.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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