November 4, 2004

The second Bush administration and educational research

One of the sotto voce points of the AFT study on charter schools is that the Bush administration suppressed the information (and thus AFT staff members went looking for it). This parallels the criticisms that the Bush administration has politicized physical and biological science. The irony is that the language of the No Child Left Behind Act repeatedly refers to scientific research in education and prioritizes quasi-experimental research.

With a second Bush term, researchers should be alert in cases where political appointees or their direct underlings might be using bureaucratic tools to make research more difficult. Over the last few years, there has been substantial criticism of the reorganization of ERIC (Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse), and specifically the end of dedicated clearinghouses for specific topics within ERIC, funded by contract with specific organizations. At the time, I was skeptical of the approach taken by some dissenters on ERIC (not the site linked to above—but you can see a June 2003 archived version of the "Save ERIC" web site), because the rhetoric seemed paranoid and because I thought it might have been more aimed at saving the several clearinghouse contracts than the value of research access. The ERIC digests never seemed to be worth all that much to me, and ERIC was falling increasingly behind the curve of Internet research distribution.

But if there is clear evidence that scientific research and advice is being thwarted in other areas of the federal government, it is something to be alert to in education. After all, you can't just be in favor of scientific research when that research agrees with your predispositions!

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Posted in Research on November 4, 2004 5:56 AM |