Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Too Late for Dryden

One of the most interesting things to come out of this year's Rural Schools Conference was John Sipple's new study, which contradicts the late Tom Lyson's hypotheses about the impact of school consolidation on villages. Tom Lyson was not only a researcher at Cornell when he did his modest study, he was also mayor of Freeville, and as such, had a really big dog in that hunt. Those of us who wondered about Lyson's tiny data set should feel vindicated by Sipple's data, which indicate that losing a school does no harm to a village save for a decline in household income (perhaps due to the loss of teachers from the village, who are often the best-paid residents)—but mostly, I just feel sad. Important decisions were made based on bad data. It's not like we get a do-over.

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