The religious left?

We appreciate Eduwonk Andy's nice plug of our Catholic schools report, and agree with him that public funding should come in return for some "substantial reciprocal obligations on the part of parochial schools," which he says "they have thus far resisted." We suspect he means the release of test score data, which Scott Hamilton addresses in our report's introduction:

In an increasingly competitive environment for schools, and with the imperfect but rich array of school information about public schools now available, the dearth of student achievement data and other information about Catholic schools represents either archaic (possibly even smug or defensive) secrecy or a grievous failure to observe how the education world has changed since the days when parishioners could simply be admonished to send their children to a Catholic school. In the era of No Child Left Behind, Catholic schools must make a commitment to measure their performance and make the results (and much more) available to one and all. Arguably, they should provide more such information than their public school counterparts.

I'm not so sure that parochial schools would resist this, however, if real money were on the table. At least when I played a bit part in implementing the District of Columbia's federally-funded school voucher program, it became clear to me that the Catholic schools were desperate enough for the dollars that they would have done virtually anything, including making all of their test score data public. It was the secular independent schools (like Georgetown Day) that protested loudly about any "intrusion" into their affairs and which threatened not to participate if they had to take certain tests and come under the light of transparency.

So Congress and the U.S. Department of Education had a choice: force the "transparency" issue and create a program with nothing but Catholic schools, or repent on testing and create a program with a broad-based group of schools. We chose the latter; I suspect those on the left would make the same choice, too.

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