Thursday, August 28, 2008

Predictable result, predictable reaction

The C.D. Howe Institute has come out with a study finding that Catholic school boards in Ontario tend to outperform public school boards. Of the top thirteen boards (given in no particular order) eleven of them are Catholic. Of the bottom ten, two are Catholic.

Surprise, surprise.

Reaction to the study by the relevant parties was also predictable.

Colleen Schenk, president of Ontario's Public School Boards' Association, was livid. She said:
[The study] us[es] misleading interpretations to assert the superiority of one school system [Catholic] over another [Public].
The report makes claims about the relative success of public and Catholic school boards in the province, based on out-of-date information and couched in language more related to calculating one's odds at winning a coin toss than to offering the public, and parents in particular, accurate information about student achievement in Ontario's schools.
I have to admit that the bit about the coin toss I thought pretty withering. Until, that is, I looked at the study myself and realized that the source of this (as it were) flip remark was an actual coin toss analogy used in the brief, to describe (ironically) the process by which C.D. Howe worked against statistical bias. Ms. Schenk would appear not only to be a derivative thinker, but a rather inept one too.

(I admit that I was disappointed in my expectations that the Ontario School Boards' Association would see the study as proof of the necessity that public funding should be taken away from the Catholic boards. These, after all, are the school boards that gave us the Inquisition and the Crusades. Surely it's clear at what price was bought this so-called "success"?!)

For their own part, representatives of the Catholic boards could do little more than shuffle their feet, sweat, squint, squirm and mumble prayers that the limelight might be persuaded to shine anywhere but on them.
"We don't believe in any kind of ranking; we don't think it's useful," said Chris Cable, the [York Catholic District School Board's] communications manager. "What's really important is that we do take a look at what is happening at each individual school."