HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Education (Group) » Who'd a thunk it? Sweden ...

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 01:34 AM

Who'd a thunk it? Sweden teaches us about the perils of school privatization


n 1992, the normally socialist democratic Sweden implemented a series of school reforms that would be the wet dream of most conservatives. Vouchers were issued to parents to send their children to any schools around the country, private or public. Companies were allowed to start for-profit schools. Private equity firms ran hundreds of schools.

The results? Exactly what any liberal would have predicted:

Test scores fell consistently starting in 1995. Source.

Social stratification and ethnic and immigrant segregation increased. Source.

The better teachers went to schools with students of higher socio-economic status. Source.

In 2013, one of the biggest private education firms declared bankruptcy, disrupting the education of 11,000 students. Some1,000 people lost their jobs. The company's total unpaid debt was around 1 billion crowns ($150 million). Source.

In 2001, a convicted pedophile set up several schools quite legally. Source.

In one study, Swedish researchers found:

We find that an increase in the private school share moderately improves short-term educational outcomes such as 9th-grade GPA and the fraction of students who choose an academic high school track. However, we do not find any impact on medium or long-term educational outcomes such as high school GPA, university attainment or years of schooling. We conclude that the first-order short-term effect is too small to yield lasting positive effects.

5 replies, 1655 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who'd a thunk it? Sweden teaches us about the perils of school privatization (Original post)
eridani Jun 2015 OP
merrily Jun 2015 #1
Scuba Jun 2015 #2
appalachiablue Jun 2015 #3
Igel Jun 2015 #4
nashville_brook Jun 2015 #5

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 01:42 AM

1. Spare me Scandinavian Socialists don't know diddly about private business getting rich on public tax

dollars, let alone union busting. Get Jeb and Arne over here to tell us what's what about charter schools.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 07:02 AM

2. Hey, how are con men gonna plunder the education budget if you keep posting these facts?


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 09:02 AM

3. Paging Arne Duncan et al!

K & R 1,000

This needs to be seen, widely. Sweden is reversing other neoliberal privatization efforts with senior homes and hospitals. WHY? Because they are intelligent people who care about their country and people.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 09:21 AM

4. The OP cites all of three sources.

Looks like more, but it isn't. He just broke down his three sources to make it look like he was a diligent busy little bee.

One is a Ravitch article that cites one presenter at a conference. His PPT is a bit confusing, to be honest, on one point: One slide says some studies showed "Possible gains from competition of about 1-2 percentiles or about 1 point on international tests (PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS)." But then he shows and cites for Ravitch large losses on these tests. This is after he discounts the worth of GPA or national standardized tests as showing anything useful, since teachers get the tests ahead of time and grade them--the assumption being, I guess, that this means they can teach the test or intentionally misgrade them.

But take the PISA as an example--I choose it because it's first in the list and I don't want to take all day rummaging through international testing protocols. It's normed and scaled for each testing cohort. It's not norm referenced or criterion based. 5000 kids take the test, their average score = 500. If you do average, you get a 500. If average was a score of 89%, that's 500; if average was 39%, that's 500. If your country's students do 5% better on the test than last time, but other countries do 10% better, your country's PISA scores drop like a stone.

I suspect this is the "possible gains of about ... 1 point on international tests (PISA...)" compared with hefty declines in PISA scores. Maybe not, in which case I have no idea how both A and not-A are right. Hard to know what Ravitch's one source for those first three claims actually means in this case.

The last citation in the OP, though, uses GPAs and such and finds no decline. That's why the one researcher had to dismiss through innuendo such data. It didn't support his argument, he had no counterclaim for dealing with it, so he just sort of mentions it and sets it aside.

As for the rest, yeah. Increased stratification, check. Esp. in Sweden where, in the '90s the number of immigrant communities increased and their numbers increased. Whether this would have happened without vouchers ... Well, it probably would have. Same for economic segregation, as the result of political changes. Post-hoc arguments are so much horse post-hockey.

Good teachers prefer to go to better schools, with the proviso that some of those private schools would have been ethnicity- or religion-based, and so some established, experienced teachers wouldn't have been eligible. This happens anyway whenever you get any kind of segregation. I assume that I know what he means when he says "better teachers"--more years teacher, greater number of advanced degrees. He may mean "teachers whose students show, on average, significantly more than 1 year's increase in academic achievement in one academic year". But for that he'd have to rely on GPA and national standardized tests and that would be inconsistent, so I assume he doesn't do that. Most often "better teachers" is equivalent to "teachers of better students."

In the end that writer ends up by saying vouchers increase choice (+), have no net affect on achievement (0), is a negative for equity (-), and is indeterminate with respect so social cohesion.

Except that it's likely that equity was going to change anyway. It boils down to whether or not you like vouchers and can put up with the occasional scandal (which never affects public schools, to be sure ... /sarcasm off). If vouchers are bad because they don't really produce any improvement ... Meh. They produce dislocations and there's an argument to be made for teachers as workers, esp. teachers as union members. There's also an argument to be made for dealing with SpEd and other special needs students, but part of that is specious and part of it is due to perennial and egregious Congressional underfunding of Congressional mandates.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Igel (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 10:09 AM

5. is there a point here?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread