Public school children have become lab rats of policymakers who are eager to see change faster than we can study what works. Experimental reforms are often founded on the lackluster research of ideological think tanks, who have filled the expertise vacuum left by academics unwilling to conduct policy-related research. “I’ve reviewed some just God awful stuff,” cringes Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker, whose influential data-driven education, blog, schoolfinance101 has helped him become a go-to reviewer for policy reports.
For example, he notes, the libertarian-happy think tank The Reason Foundation concluded that a controversial program to peg funding to student improvement had worked, but forgot to highlight the policy was adopted after the changes had begun. “I started realizing that there’s this never-ending flow of misinformation and disinformation out there,” he said.
Like Nate Silver’s influential and statistically nuanced election forecast blog posts, Baker has gained notoriety for reexamining data to trounce…
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