Public vs. Private School Report Spurs Controversy

Public schools perform favorably with private schools when students' income and socio-economic status are taken into account, according to a new report from the U.S. Education Department. The findings counter a popularly held notion, that private schools outperform public schools.

But the report has generated controversy due to what some call its overly low-key release, on a Friday evening. That spurred critics to charge that the Bush administration, long a supporter of private alternatives to public schools, was playing politics by burying data it doesn't like.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings calls her critics' charges ridiculous, saying the administration strongly supports public education. But, she says, the administration also believes parents should have choices.

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