One of the defining characteristics of contemporary politics has been the rise of think tanks, policy institutes, and corporately funded organizations with clear political agendas and sophisticated marketing departments to peddle advocacy “research” that provides a patina of legitimacy to what is otherwise little more than the play of power. [See Andrew Rich for a primer on the topic.] The collapse of investigative journalism and shrinking newsroom budgets has provided an opportunity for groups with political agendas to shape public debate, and it is working as planned. Today's KNS provides us with an excellent example of how the process works.
This opinion piece by Pam Strickland discusses the recent release of a “report” by the National Council on Teacher Quality that supposedly evaluates the effectiveness of teacher education programs in the United States. Not surprisingly, it paints a dire picture of failure. While I understand that this is an Op-Ed, I believe that it is incumbent that a journalist at least put forth some effort to scratch beneath the surface and to do her/his homework. Sadly, it looks like Strickland failed this test.
Had she done so she would have learned that NCTQ is a child of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation which has been pushing an agenda of corporate reform, alternative licensure, and de-professionalization for decades, and that to call this report a “study” is laughable. Hint: Reviewing syllabuses using standards that were changed as the “study” was being conducted does not constitute quality educational research. [Some good reads here, here, and here.] Even more troubling is that had Strickland made a simple phone call or email to the local college of education here in town she would have learned that UT's own Susan Benner will be offering the rebuttal at the official release of this report at the Education Commission of the States on June 27th. [You can find her review of NCTQ from 2011 here.] Sadly, Strickland did none of these very simple things. Instead, she carried water for a political group with a very specific agenda. This might fire up the KNS commentariat and generate clicks, but it does little to advance public debate over education in our state.
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