Monday, September 19, 2011

Cutting Money Improves SAT Scores?

According to this conservative website, "reductions in state aid to local school districts has apparently had no discernible effect on the students in New Jersey’s classrooms".

What a fantastic piece of poor conservative logic.

To justify this, the author of the article throws in a red herring about how test scores have dropped elsewhere due to a cause completely unrelated to funding.

The next fallacy is the post hoc, ergo propter hoc when the author notes that NJ SAT scores have risen despite financial cuts. This comes immediately after the previous fallacy noting that finances aren't the only factor that effects test scores; the amount of minority students (which are the victims of large gaps in their preparedness) taking the tests do as well. As such, the author needs to demonstrate that the rise in scores wasn't in any way related to such other factors. But it isn't even mentioned.

Instead, he talks about how students taking the 2011 SATs would have been just entering high school when Governor Christie came into office. This is true, but a complete non sequitur. His coming into office has nothing to do with when cuts were instituted (in 2010). As such, those taking the 2011 SAT would have had several years of preparation under nominal funding making it even less likely that they would be largely effected by this change. At most, one year of their education could be effected.

So there we have it. Three fatal logical fallacies within three paragraphs. I don't mean to imply that this idiocy is par for the course for those in power in NJ (they only reflect the muddled thinking of the author, supposedly the site's managing editor), but in trying to sort out when the cuts were imposed, I found that the NJ Governor is a twit when it comes to education. His largest cuts specifically targeted poor schools with minorities who are already likely to underperform. Due to a 2008 act, that budget was, thankfully, ruled unconstitutional. Way to try to make the education gap for minorities even worse though, Christie.

1 comment:

Stephen Uitti said...

Sounds like he was trying to save money. But of course, putting your effort into the worst performing schools should be the most cost effective way to improve averages. There's more room at the bottom. So, not only was his public rhetoric logically stupid, but so are his policies.

It reminds me of my last product review: "The quality was poor, but it was expensive."