David Frum

09.10.12

The High Cost Of Teacher Strikes

Optimists hope that the Chicago teacher strike will end quickly. Perhaps so. But as Dylan Matthews reports, even short strikes have crushing effects on vulnerable students.

If the strike happened when a student was in grade 2 or 3, their scores rose by slightly less. But if the strike happened when the student was in grade 5 or 6, their scores rose by a whole lot less. Scores for strike-affected fifth-graders were a full 3.8 percent lower than those for fifth-graders in schools and grades not affected. If that doesn’t seem like much, it’s 29 percent of the standard deviation (or the typical amount by which students differ from their class average). Strikes, in other words, accounted for one third of why some students did better than others.

Remember that if you hear it said that the teachers are doing it "for the children."