News Story

WMU Professor Responds To Claims He Is Not Pro-School Choice In Education

Western Michigan University professor Gary Miron

Editor's note: Gary Miron is a professor at Western Michigan University who is quoted by the mainstream media about charter school issues in Michigan and around the country. Michigan Capitol Confidential recently questioned a Michigan Radio story headline that described Miron as "pro-school choice" in regards to public education.

Miron provided his response below:

I would not call myself an advocate or opponent of school choice. I am a professional evaluator and “I call them as I see them” or more specifically I call them based on empirical evidence.

I teach and prepare doctoral students to be professional evaluators and they all learn the importance of rigor and clear methods that facilitate the ability to replicate and verify. These are things I value.

You will see in my research and evaluations clear details on methods, including limitations. Replicating or verifying our findings should be easy if you wish to delve into this. If you have any questions about the evaluations I have conducted for state education agencies, or the research I have conducted for the U.S. Department of Education, various foundations, and European research councils, please let me know. I will be happy to answer questions or assist when possible.

I believe Michigan Radio indicated that I was “pro school choice” because of many of my statements in the interview. If you check into my body of scholarship — including the many state evaluations of charter schools I led — you will find a few of the most positive state evaluations that favor charter schools.

Unfortunately for advocacy groups, I also have some evaluations that indicate that charter schools are not living up to the articulated objectives, this includes the evaluations I conducted for the Michigan Department of Education.

By the way, If you dig back far enough, you will even see that I was involved in starting a private voucher school in Sweden. The school is still operating and is quite successful. School choice can work if it’s properly designed and implemented. I also taught at a school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the mid-1980s that converted to a charter school in the 1990s, a decision I certainly supported.

I judge school reforms based on their outcomes, not based on hypothetical or ideological arguments. I hope you can accept and understand this. To be clear, I am an advocate of school reforms that work and pursue the objectives set for them.