Well here it is. My debut post @the chalk face media extravaganza. As I said in my column description my main goal is to expose education “news” that really serves as propaganda.
About a month and a half ago I had taken issue with an article published in EdWeek by Stephen Sawchuk. A few weeks passed and like most blog posts I assumed that the journalistic masterpiece I had written was now circulating amongst the powerful reformers—probably as toilet paper.
However, after the New Year and to my surprise I was asked to “approve” a comment for this essentially unnoticed journalistic game changer of a blog. Like I normally do, I went to “approve” the comment. However it was after I hit the approve button that I read the following:
I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Slekar’s assertion that “corporate education reformers get to say whatever the hell they want” in the pages of Education Week. In fact, earlier in 2012, we published a series of over 13,000 words taking a critical look at advocacy organizations. You can find it here. http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/education-advocacy/index.html
This of course led to the following exchange on the blog site.
A piece that takes a “critical look at advocacy organizations” is honorable. However, divorcing those organizations in the context of other articles such as the one I referenced above is the problem. You can’t be critical in vacuum. NCTQ and CCSSO as cited in the article referenced above come across as reputable school policy organizations. They are not and EdWeek should state that they are advocacy groups and not reputable research outlets.
We should probably continue this conversation in another forum without space limits, perhaps in a phone call. In essence, I think where you and I are stumbling is on the definition of “reputable school policy organizations” and “reputable research outlets.” There is clearly room for discussion and debate here. I’m always happy to hear from readers, so ring me or email me to set up a time. firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought about Stephen’s offer to continue the conversation in “another forum” but quickly read this comment to the blog.
As an interested reader, I hope you keep it here. And my views are very much like Tim’s on this. There are way too many advocacy groups in the Education Deform movement masquerading as research/policy neutrals. They’re not, not by a long shot.
So I listened to the other “reader” and posted the comment below.
I understand the differences here. For me this is really not that complicated. In the article you authored above you cite NCTQ and CCSSO as if the concerns they have are even remotely valid given the research that clearly demonstrates their concerns have no foundation. They are corporate ed reformers with an agenda and EdWeek should state that up front when citing the issues that they “advocate.” Readers assume that EdWeek is presenting unbiased reporting. Nothing can be further from the truth. Also not saying anything about these group’s connections to corporate ed reform is the same as endorsing them. AREA and NCTQ are not remotely similar organizations and when NCTQ has a problem with teacher education EdWeek should state up front that their concerns with teacher education are ideologically driven and not supported by any peer-reviewed literature. EdWeek gives them credibility when the reality is they are hacks.
I don’t agree with you that there is consensus about just who/what comprises “corporate ed reformers with an agenda,” and I think the issues about research and peer review are more complex than you make out here. Again, happy to engage in a productive dialogue, but when you start with the personal attacks about EW being biased etc., that’s when I stop listening.
I guess when he said he was going to “stop listening” I could have stopped, but I had to at least say:
There is nothing “personal” going on here and just because you “don’t agree” and you “think issues about peer review are more complex” doesn’t make it so. In fact, by you admitting that you think there is debate concerning peer evaluated research and advocacy/think tank propaganda just proves my point–EdWeek is printing stories and crediting think tank propaganda as if it were the same as peer-reviewed research. This is why EdWeek’s stories should be considered questionable when it comes to any standards of journalistic integrity. Look. It’s not really your fault. You’re trying to make a living as a writer and EdWeek hired you for your writing skills. I get it. However, when you or any form of media engages in spewing propaganda as if it were the same as or even remotely similar to peer reviewed research it is our job (those with real education credentials and experience) to point it out so that the damage you and EdWeek are causing can be minimized at the very least.
Well, there you have it. I at least give Mr. Sawchuk credit for entering into a discussion about his article, but more importantly, about my assertion that EdWeek was misleading readers by not revealing that advocacy policy outlets and think tanks don’t produce “research.” However after my reply above, Mr. Sawchuk obviously “stopped listening.”
I guess I should have taken this conversation out of the public view. I guess I should have been a little less aggressive. I guess I should have given in a little bit and entertained the idea that the work of advocacy policy outlets and peer-reviewed research outlets is sometimes debatable. Right?
Hell no! There is a difference between advocacy and research. Advocacy serves up propaganda designed to confuse or mislead. Research is designed to help us understand and goes through a process of blind review. Therefore EdWeek or any “news” media must specifically state when shilling for the corporate education reformers and their propaganda machines. And if they don’t I will. Why?
Because someone has to say it!
Follow Timothy D. Slekar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/slekar