The annual Friedman Foundation Johnny-One-Note Award for promoting an educational cure-all through the miracle of cloning goes to (drum roll please) the Friedman Foundation.
The Foundation has, over the past three years, cloned the same study on the cost of drop-outs in at least seven states, a tax credit voucher report in at least six states, and opinion polls on school choice in 15 states. Amazingly, all these reports lead to the same conclusion: vouchers and other forms of school choice will save money and improve student outcomes. (Given the miraculous power Friedman assigns to vouchers one might be forgiven for wondering if implementing voucher programs would take off unwanted weight and leave partners fully satisfied as well.) The basic technique used by Friedman researchers is to take the same report, change the name of the state, plug in some state-specific data, vary the title a bit, and come up with the predetermined conclusion.
We also should not fail to acknowledge a non-clone Friedman Foundation offering that we reviewed in 2009. The Foundation’s Win-Win report argues that vouchers help both the private and the public schools. It purports to gather all available evidence on the competitive effects of vouchers and is able to find only seventeen studies, most of which were produced by voucher advocacy organizations. From this thin and biased review, the report concludes that there is a consensus on the matter. In truth, existing research provides little reliable information about the competitive effects of vouchers, and this report does little to help answer the question.