På ledarsidan i Svenska Dagbladet skriver idag dess politiske chefredaktör att “det finns mycket” som pekar i riktning mot att fler friskolor leder till bättre resultat. Under åberopande av en studie genomförd av Anders Böhlmark och Mikael Lindahl påstås också att “[ä]ven elever i kommunala skola gör bättre ifrån sig tack vare konkurrensen.”
Det låter ju jättefint. Problemet är bara att det är ljug!
Låt mig förklara varför jag anser att Svenska Dagbladet ljuger om friskolorna och samtidig reda ut vad forskning och data verkligen säger om friskolornas effekter på skolors och elevers resultat.
In a post up today on his blog, Paul Krugman notices that there “doesn’t seem to be much trickle-down going on” in the USA.
Unfortunately we can see the same pattern developing in Sweden. Look at the figure below, which shows how the distribution of mean income and wealth (expressed in year 2009 prices) for the top 0.1% and the bottom 90% has changed in Sweden for the last 30 years:
A society where we allow the inequality of incomes and wealth to increase without bounds, sooner or later implodes. The cement that keeps us together erodes and in the end we are only left with people dipped in the ice cold water of egoism and greed. It’s high time to put an end to this the worst Juggernaut of our times!
Henry M. Levin – distinguished economist and director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University – recently reviewed the evidence about the effects of vouchers, initiated in 1992, in the Swedish school system:
In 1992 Sweden adopted a voucher-type plan in which municipalities would provide the same funding per pupil to either public schools or independent (private) schools. There were few restrictions for independent schools, and religious or for-profit schools were eligible to participate. In 1994, choice was also extended to that of public schools where parents could choose either a public or private school. In the early years, only about 2 percent of students chose independent schools. However, since the opening of this century, independent school enrollments have expanded considerably. By 2011-12 almost a quarter of elementary and secondary students were in independent schools. Half of all students in the upper secondary schools in Stockholm were attending private schools at public expense.
On December 3, 2012, Forbes Magazine recommended for the U.S. that: “…we can learn something about when choice works by looking at Sweden’s move to vouchers.” On March 11 and 12, 2013, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences did just that by convening a two day conference to learn what vouchers had accomplished in the last two decades … The following was my verdict:
- On the criterion of Freedom of Choice, the approach has been highly successful. Parents and students have many more choices among both public schools and independent schools than they had prior to the voucher system.
- On the criterion of productive efficiency, the research studies show virtually no difference in achievement between public and independent schools for comparable students. Measures of the extent of competition in local areas also show a trivial relation to achievement. The best study measures the potential choices, public and private, within a particular geographical area. For a 10 percent increase in choices, the achievement difference is about one-half of a percentile. Even this result must be understood within the constraint that the achievement measure is not based upon standardized tests, but upon teacher grades. The so-called national examination result that is also used in some studies is actually administered and graded by the teacher with examination copies available to the school principal and teachers well in advance of the “testing”. Another study found no difference in these achievement measures between public and private schools, but an overall achievement effect for the system of a few percentiles. Even this author agreed that the result was trivial.
In evaluating these results, we must also keep in mind that the overall performance of the system on externally administered and evaluated tests used for international comparisons showed substantial declines over the last fifteen years for Sweden. For those who are interested in the patterns of achievement decline across subjects and grades, I have provided the enclosed powerpoint presentation …
- With respect to equity, a comprehensive, national study sponsored by the government found that socio-economic stratification had increased as well as ethnic and immigrant segregation. This also affected the distribution of personnel where the better qualified educators were drawn to schools with students of higher socio-economic status and native students. The international testing also showed rising variance or inequality in test scores among schools. No evidence existed to challenge the rising inequality. Accordingly, I rated the Swedish voucher system as negative on equity.
Among the industrialized countries, only three have a universal voucher or choice system Chile, Holland, and Sweden. Some would also argue that Belgium qualifies in this category. The former three countries have very different designs with the Dutch system being the most highly regulated and devoting the most attention to equity. Even so, the tracking that takes place at age 12 in the Netherlands between vocational and academic secondary schools has important equity consequences in terms of socio-economic stratification. Although based upon choice, the available choices available to a student are heavily dependent on her achievement test results. The Chilean system has witnessed an increasingly notable stratification of the population, both within and between public and private sectors. Students from more educated and wealthier families are found in the private schools which receive public funding, but can choose which students to accept from among applicants. The Chilean system allows schools to charge additional fees beyond the voucher, also favoring more advantage families.
Förre chefredaktören och friskoleivraren Hans Bergström hade häromdagen en synnerligen illa underbyggd artikel på newsmill där han påstod att svenska friskolor minskar segregationen.
Sten Svensson – tidigare chefredaktör på Lärarnas tidning - svarar på detta grodors plums och ankors plask med ett välargumenterat inlägg i dagens newsmill:
Under sin tid som chefredaktör för Dagens Nyheter bedrev Hans Bergström en exempellös svartmålning av den svenska skolan. Den var slapp, flummig kunskapsfientlig och usel på alla upptänkliga sätt …
Nu har vi precis den skola som Bergström har strävat efter och ändå är det inte bra. Elevresultaten faller och allt flera forskarrapporter visar att den svenska skolan är på väg åt helt fel håll …
Bergström försöker bevisa att den svenska skolan inte är segregerad och att segregationen inte har ökat på grund det fria valet och de fristående skolorna. Han talar mot bättre vetande.
I Skolverkets rapport om skolans likvärdighet, som kom förra året, kan man läsa:
”Spridningen mellan skolors genomsnittliga resultat har ökat markant. Mellanskolsvariationen, det mått som används för att beskriva hur mycket resultaten skiljer sig mellan olika skolor, har från en i ett internationellt perspektiv låg nivåer mer än fördubblats sedan slutet av 1990-talet. 2011 låg mellanskolsvariation på över 18 procent enligt betygen. De internationella PISA-undersökningarna visar på samma utveckling. Även spridningen i resultat mellan elever har ökat men inte i samma omfattning som ökningen mellan skolor.” (Likvärdig utbildning i svensk grundskola? Rapport 374. 2012.)
Enligt skolverket har de ökade skillnaderna flera orsaker. En del förklaras med att eleverna är segregerade efter socioekonomiska grunder och en annan del förklaras av att eleverna segregeras efter grunder som inte syns i statistiken.
”Skolorna verkar däremot bli mer och mer segregerade efter egenskaper som inte visar sig i den vanliga statistiken, till exempel att mer studiemotiverade elever (oavsett socioekonomisk bakgrund) i större utsträckning tenderar att utnyttja det fria skolvalet och söka sig till skolor där det finns många andra studiemotiverade elever. På så sätt blir eleverna mer sorterade efter resultat och dolda egenskaper än efter konventionella mått på socioekonomisk bakgrund.”
Skolverket bedömer att likvärdigheten i den svenska grundskolan har försämrats och att ”Valfrihets- och decentraliseringsreformerna i början av 1990-talet har med stor sannolikhet bidragit till denna utveckling även om andra faktorer också kan ha spelat en viss roll.”
Efter sin tid som chefredaktör för Dagens Nyheter har Hans Bergström varit verksam inom friskolebranschen som delägare i ett skolbolag. Han tillhör därmed den grupp som tjänar pengar på en segregerad skola. Skolbolagens vinster kommer till stor del från att de har låg lärartäthet. Om aktiebolagsskolorna, trots låg lärartäthet, har hyfsade elevresultat beror det på att de har ett positivt elevurval. Eleverna har i större grad välutbildade föräldrar som kan stötta sina barn på olika sätt. Som skolverket visar ovan får de också välmotiverade och försigkomna elever som inte har välutbildade föräldrar. Skulle bolagsskolarna ha samma elevunderlag som en ordinär förortskola vore det omöjligt att få goda elevresultat med låg lärartäthet. Skolbolagens vinster kräver således en positivt segregerad skola och vinsterna driver på skolsegregationen.
Hans Bergström kritiserade hårt den gamla sammanhållna och likvärdiga skolan och hans mål var att avskaffa den. Nu är det genomfört och den likvärdiga skolan är avskaffad. Det har varit bra för Hans Bergström och friskolebranschen som kunnat tjäna pengar på systemet men för skolan och eleverna har utvecklingen varit katastrofal.
När det gäller frågan om friskolornas effekt på den svenska skolans kvalitet pekar yours truly i en artikel på Skola och samhälle (längre version här) att det mesta av forskningen tyder på att det inte går att fastslå att friskolorna haft en positiv inverkan.
Så segregationen ökar och kvaliteten ökar inte - vad ska vi då ha friskolorna för? Att bolagsskolornas ägare och direktörer skor sig på våra skattepengar är räcker inte som argument.
In this video science philosopher Nancy Cartwright explains why using Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) is not at all the “gold standard” that it has lately often been portrayed as. As yours truly has repeatedly argued on this blog (e.g. here and here), RCTs usually do not provide evidence that their results are exportable to other target systems. The almost religious belief with which its propagators portray it, cannot hide the fact that RCTs cannot be taken for granted to give generalizable results. That something works somewhere is no warranty for it to work for us or even that it works generally.
(h/t Jan Milch)
På en punkt är det särskilt angeläget att uppgradera den finansiella kunskapen, och det är i förståelsen av osäkerhet …
Läroboken säger i praktiken att vi kan sopa osäkerheten under mattan. När den påstår att vi kan “precisera en sannolikhets-fördelning” försöker den om-vandla osäkerheten till risk …
Det är dags att inse hur farlig denna syn är. Finansmarknaderna är osäkra. Osäkerheten är inte kvantifierbar. Att försöka släta över osäkerheten och prata om risk som ett statistiskt mått är ansvarslöst, för i den sekund man formulerar en risksiffra är det många som börjar tro på den.
Bäst uttrycker kanske ändå postkeynesianernas grand old man – Paul Davidson – vikten och betydelsen av att som John Maynard Keynes (för att nu inte nämna Frank Knight och Gunnar Myrdal) skilja på probabilistisk risk och genuin osäkerhet:
Unfortunately as we have all learned in the world of experience, little is known with certainty about future payoffs of investment decisions made today. If the return on economic decisions made today is never known with certainty, then how can financial managers make optimal decisions on where to put their firm’s money and householder’s where to put their saving today?
If theorists invent a world remote from reality and then lived in it consistently, then Keynes [1936, p.16] argued these economic thinkers were “like Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who discover that apparent parallel lines collide, rebuke these lines for not keeping straight. Yet, in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. Something similar is required to-day in economics” …
As any statistician will tell you, in order to draw any statistical (probabilistic risk) inferences regarding the values of any population universe, one should draw and statistically analyze a sample from that universe. Drawing a sample from the future economic universe of financial markets, however, is impossible. Simply stated the ergodic axiom presumes that the future is already predetermined by an unchanging probability distribution and therefore a sample from the past is equivalent to drawing a sample from the future … Assuming ergodicity permits one to believe one can calculate an actuarial certainty about future events from past data.
Efficient market theorists must implicitly presume decision makers can reliably calculate the future. The economy, therefore, must be governed by an ergodic stochastic process, so that calculating a probability distribution from past statistical data samples is the same as calculating the risks from a sample drawn from the future. If financial markets are governed by the ergodic axiom, then we might ask why do mutual funds that advertise their wonderful past earnings record always note in the advertisement that past performance does not guarantee future results …
This ergodic axiom is an essential foundation for all the complex risk management computer models developed by the “quants” on Wall Street. It is also the foundation for econometricians who believe that their econometric models will correctly predict the future GDP, employment, inflation rate, etc. If, however, the economy is governed by a non-ergodic stochastic process, then econometric estimates generated from past market data are not reliable estimates that would be obtained if one could draw a sample from the future …
In sum, the ergodic axiom underlying the typical risk management and efficient market models represents, in a Keynes view, a model remote from an economic reality that is truly governed by non-ergodic conditions. Keynes, his Post Keynesian followers, and George Soros all reject the assumption that people can know the economic future since it is not predetermined. Instead they assert that people “know” they cannot know the future outcome of crucial economic decisions made today. The future is truly uncertain and not just probabilistic risky.
One of yours truly’s Sunday morning rituals is reading the obituary column of The Telegraph. Today this obit caught my eyes:
Peter Scott, who has died aged 82, was a highly accomplished cat burglar, and as Britain’s most prolific plunderer of the great and good took particular pains to select his victims from the ranks of aristocrats, film stars and even royalty.
According to a list of 100 names he supplied to The Daily Telegraph, he targeted figures such as Soraya Khashoggi, Shirley MacLaine, the Shah of Iran, Judy Garland and even Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother — although he added apologetically that, in her case, the authorities had covered up by issuing a “D-notice ”.
In 1994 Scott wrote to the newspaper to say that he would consider it “a massive disappointment if I were not to get a mention in [its] illustrious obituary column”. He explained that he derived much pleasure from reading accounts of the exploits of war heroes, adding: “I would like to think I would have fronted the Hun with the same enthusiasm as I did the fleshpots in Mayfair.” He added that he had been a Telegraph reader since 1957, when newspapers were first allowed in prisons, “on account of its broad coverage on crime”.
In the course of thieving jewellery and artworks from Mayfair mansions, Bond Street shops and stately homes, Scott also served Fleet Street as handy headline fodder, being variously hailed the “King of the Cat Burglars”, “Burglar to the Stars” or the “Human Fly”. He identified a Robin Hood streak in himself, too, asserting in his memoirs that he had been “sent by God to take back some of the wealth that the outrageously rich had taken from the rest of us”.
“I felt like a missionary seeing his flock for the first time,” he explained when he recalled casing Dropmore House, the country house of the press baron Viscount Kemsley, on a rainy night in 1956 and squinting through the window at the well-heeled guests sitting down to dinner. “I decided these people were my life’s work.”
Always a meticulous planner, Scott bought a new suit before each job, so that he would not look out of place in the premises he was burgling. Fear, the possibility of capture, excited him.
During one break-in “a titled lady appeared at the top of the stairs. ‘Everything’s all right, madam,’ I shouted up, and she went off to bed thinking I was the butler.” On other occasions, if disturbed by the occupier, he would shout reassuringly: “It’s only me!”
In all, by his own reckoning, Scott stole jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million. He held none of his victims in great esteem (“upper-class prats chattering in monosyllables”). The roll-call of “marks” from whom he claimed to have stolen valuables included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and the gambling club and zoo owner John Aspinall. “Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites,” he recollected. “Sophia Loren got what she deserved too.”
Scott stole a £200,000 necklace from the Italian star when she was in Britain filming The Millionairess in 1960. Billed in the newspapers as Britain’s biggest jewellery theft, it yielded Scott £30,000 from a “fence”. After Miss Loren had pointed at him on television saying: “I come from a long line of gipsies. You will have no luck,” Scott lost every penny in the Palm Beach Casino at Cannes.
In the 1950s and 1960s he pinpointed his targets by perusing the society columns in the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Nor did he ease up with the approach of middle-age; in the 1980s he was still scaling walls and drainpipes. In one Bond Street caper alone he stole jewellery worth £1.5 million, and in 1985 he was jailed for four years. On his release he expanded his social horizons by becoming a celebrity “tennis bum”, a racquet for hire at a smart London club where — as he put it in his autobiography — he coached still more potential “rich prats”.
By the mid-1990s, Scott had served 12 years in prison in the course of half a dozen separate stretches, and claimed to have laid down his “cane” [jemmy] and retired from a life of crime.
But in 1998 he was jailed for another three and a half years for handling, following the theft of Picasso’s Tête de Femme from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair the year before. To the impassive detectives who arrested him, Scott quoted a line from WE Henley: “Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.” He often drew on literary allusions, quoting Confucius, Oscar Wilde and Proust.
Scott was also a past-master in self-justification of his crimes and misdemeanours: “The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop.”
In his memoirs, Gentleman Thief (1995), Scott admitted to an even stronger motivation than fear as he contemplated another “job”: “Even now, after 30 years, it was a sexual thrill.” There was the additional satisfaction in his assumption that the millions reading about his exploits in the papers were silently cheering him on.
In his review in 1938 of Historical Development of the Graphical Representation of Statistical Data, by H. Gray Funkhauser, for The Economic Journal, the great economist writes:
“Perhaps the most striking outcome of Mr. Funkhouser’s researches is the fact of the very slow progress which graphical methods made until quite recently … In the first fifty volumes of the Statistical Journal, 1837-87, only fourteen graphs are printed altogether. It is surprising to be told that Laplace never drew a graph of the normal law of error … Edgeworth made no use of statistical charts as distinct from mathematical diagrams.
Apart from Quetelet and Jevons, the most important influences were probably those of Galton and of Mulhall’s Dictionary, first published in 1884. Galton was indeed following his father and grandfather in this field, but his pioneer work was mainly restricted to meteorological maps, and he did not contribute to the development of the graphical representation of economic statistics.”
So far so good. But then comes the kicker:
“Mr. Funkhouser has made an extremely interesting and valuable contribution to the history of statistical method. I wish, however, that he could have added a warning, supported by horrid examples, of the evils of the graphical method unsupported by tables of figures. Both for accurate understanding, and particularly to facilitate the use of the same material by other people, it is essential that graphs should not be published by themselves, but only when supported by the tables which lead up to them. It would be an exceedingly good rule to forbid in any scientific periodical the publication of graphs unsupported by tables.”
I’m ok with that—if they also forbid the publication of all tables unsupported by graphs. Also if they allow graphs by themselves. Then I’m totally on board.
Well, actually, I think Keynes was more right than wrong, considering how difficult it was back in the 1930s to get hold of other people’s data. Including tables made the data available to other researchers and thereby made it easier to evaluate the validity of the statistical analysis.