Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Know who funds the playas, else you don't know sh*t

While reading this WaPo piece on education policy, it occured to me that if you don't know who the playas are, who supports them, and where their agenda lies, this article is either useless or just plain confusing.

Prime examples:

Education Trust: here is what's in the article...
An analysis by the Education Trust, meanwhile, reported a narrowing of the achievement gap in 16 states in reading since 2002, and a widening in three. At the same time, the group reported the pace of progress was generally insufficient to reach the goal of full proficiency by 2014.
Education Trust is just one of the many think tanks in education funded by corporate money to encourage 'education reform', which I would say is code for the conservative/corporate frame of education using tests and punishments to dismember the public education system.

As an example of where EdTrust is coming from, here's what the director once wrote in response to criticism the 'Texas miracle':
...such criticism is part of a 'sad history of treating successes among low-income and minority students with deep suspicion'...
Eeeeh. From Ohanian and Emery's book Why is Corporate America Bashing our Public Schools?, p. 201.

Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is not an objective source. See the item below, from Cursor's "Media Transparency" website, which helps you figure out whether the money and ideology behind surprising/counter-intuitive "news" and "studies" you see in the media are suspect.

Their president, Chester E. Finn, is described as "one of the education policy gurus of the conservative movement" - and the conservative movement has made the defunding, degrading and destruction of public education one of their primary priorities. This guy has major "conservative" wingnut foundation credentials... he's an advisory board member of the National Association of Scholars, and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a leading ultra-right wing think tank.
The WaPo writer, to his credit, identifies Finn as president of a conservative think tank.

I'm finding that if you don't know who these entities are and where their agenda lies, then you have no way of judging their statements.

Media articles rarely disclose these connections, which makes reading about education extremely confusing to most people and leads to unfortunate misperceptions.