More Odd Reporting on Education Research

August 3, 2011 at 9:27 AM Leave a comment

This is a test…has Twitter eliminated scrutiny of education research? Harvard and Education Next have released a survey showing divergence of public opinion from that of the community of educators. But guess what? They cited the issues related to public education and, more specifically, urban education. Then they focused on results specific to parents in the top income categories in their states…the folks who almost never send their kids to public schools. Yes, these are the people most likely to have the leisure time to engage in politics…but the report perpetuates their singular access to power brokers rather than merely acknowledging it as an historical reality.

I am a firm believer in education research. But puleeeeeeeeeeeeze…give us some real material that is helpful. I am not opposed to voucher systems in education per se. But it is bizarre to suggest that there is some public good in presenting research findings claiming parents are strongly in favor of vouchers to pay for private education alternatives if you only consider rich people. Sure. You surveyed parents who were the top income earners in their regions and they said they wanted to be given free access to private schools. We have redistributed income in our economy to the wealthy to the point of financial collapse. Now, we should send their kids to private school for free, too?

Okay…back to the facts. A press release entitled Public and Teachers Increasingly Divided on Key Education Issues introduces the results of the annual survey by Education Next and Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. In all fairness, they surveyed people from all walks of life. And they accurately reported up front that there was essentially NO REAL CHANGE IN PUBLIC OPINION between this year and the last. However, this was not a news story. That could only be found if one isolated out the responses of college-educated parents from the highest income category. Then, strong divergence of opinion between the elite public and the school teachers gave them something to talk about. Of course, there was divergence of opinion between the elite public and the not-so-elite public, too.

The gist of the report…education policy will be driven by power brokers armed with limited information and no vested interest in public education. Teachers are becoming more polarized in their views in this climate. Somewhere out there a blogger is heralding our new age of data-driven education reform. Others of us are still waiting.

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Entry filed under: Data.

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