September 24, 2007

Review finds Friedman Foundation Report to be a glossy publication of little value

Contact: Christopher Lubienski, (217) 333-4382; (email)
Teri Battaglieri, (248) 444-7071; (email)

EAST LANSING, Mich.—A new report from the Friedman Foundation claims to offer “a large body of evidence” to help educate people on the merits of school vouchers and other school-choice programs. A review of the report, however, finds it is based on very selective and shoddy evidence and makes misleading and false claims.

“The ABC’s of School Choice,” by the Friedman Foundation, was reviewed for the Think Twice project by Christopher Lubienski, Associate Professor and Fellow at the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois.

The report “is designed as a resource to provide ammunition for persuading people as to the merits of school choice,” according to Lubienski. “While there may indeed be a number of reasons to argue for school choice, this handbook shoots blanks.”

Lubienski writes, “Based on the production values, simplistic assertions and the difficulty of verifying the claims made in the report, it appears that the Friedman Foundation is aiming at a relatively uninformed audience, one that it hopes will spread the gospel of vouchers far, wide and without question.”

The review focuses on the merits of each key factual assertion in the report’s “Frequently Asked Questions” section which contains the main claims about research.

Lubienski points out that the report tends to rely upon on a very selective sample of studies from other advocacy organizations that are not peer reviewed and are highly biased and of questionable quality.

According to Lubienski, “Evidence – particularly on the issue of achievement – is consistently abused in the report, both by misrepresenting individual studies (including those by voucher advocates) and misrepresenting the general body of research on school choice.

Lubienski concludes that the report, as a misleading work of advocacy, offers no useful guidance to policymakers.

“A policy advocacy publication like this should always be read cautiously; the buyer should beware and should read the fine print,” he writes. “The problem here is that there is no fine print — there is only a glossy, highly attractive misrepresentation of the research literature."

Find Christopher Lubienski’s review and a link to the Friedman Foundation’s “ABC’s of School Choice” report at:

About Think Twice

The Think Twice project provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications. It is a collaboration of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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