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Send it down the memory hole

January 27, 2005

Tags EducationTaxes and Spending

A few days ago, the supposedly politically independent Swedish government agency Skolverket (the Agency for Education)published a report which showed that private schools are more efficent —their students perform better at lower costs— than public schools and moreover that the presence of private schools in one locality improves the efficency of government schools too, presumably because of the pressure from competition.

Hardly shocking results for me or any other non-socialist and also consistent with previous comparisons both in Sweden and other countries.But it was a direct slap in the face of Swedish social democratic prime minister Goran Persson who a few weeks ago had asserted that the fact that Swedish students produce so mediocre results in international comparisons of education performance despite the fact that government education spending relative to GDP is higher in Sweden than any other country in the world except Denmark, was largely the result of private schools dragging down results (He also tried to explain it with the increasing presence of immigrant children which may be basically true, but even excluding the immigrant children the results aren't that great).

As only a small fraction (a few percent) of Swedish children go to private schools this would have only limited explanatory value even if they did perform worse, but as it turns out private schools are in fact helping to improve, not drag down overall results.

The teacher's union became enraged at the results as was prime minister Persson and education minister Ibrahim Baylan . After Baylan had publicly blasted the report (needless to say without using any real factual arguments) the Agency for Education officially disawoved it and simply withdrew it from their web site and stopped giving out the printed version of it. Who needs facts when you got socialist ideology?

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