To the Editor:
The spat between Stanford University colleagues Margaret E. Raymond and Caroline M. Hoxby over charter schools (“Scholars Spar Over Research Methods Used to Evaluate Charters,” Oct. 14, 2009) is reminiscent of the brawl between John F. Witte of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University’s Paul E. Peterson over vouchers in 1996. In both instances, the issue made headlines in major newspapers nationwide, with The Wall Street Journal running a story about the earlier debate on its front page on Oct. 11, 1996.
The major difference was that Messrs. Witte and Peterson looked at the same student data about vouchers in Milwaukee and reached opposite conclusions. Ms. Raymond looked at 15 states and the District of Columbia, while Ms. Hoxby focused only on New York City.
Despite the coverage, however, the Witte-Peterson controversy was never resolved to anyone’s complete satisfaction. If the past is any guide, the same thing will be true today in the Raymond-Hoxby dust-up.
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 2009 edition of Education Week as Raymond-Hoxby ‘Spat’ Has Historical Resonance