Is Funding Transparency Enough to Prevent Billionaire Influence in Education Journalism?
By Anthony Cody.
Here is where we stand with the revived controversy over the Los Angeles Times’ 2010 “investigation” into teacher effectiveness.
In 2009, Teachers College, which sponsors The Hechinger Report, received a grant from the Gates Foundation in the amount of $652,493 in order “to support the development of high quality education coverage in the nation’s leading newspapers and magazines.”
In 2010, The Hechinger Report paid a researcher by the name of Richard Buddin $15,000 to develop the VAM system that was used to rank thousands of teachers in Los Angeles according to their ability to raise test scores. It is not clear if this money was from the Gates Foundation grant, but it well could be.
Los Angeles Times reporters Jason Felch and Jason Song published a series of articlesextensively quoting “experts” from the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching project as they justified the use of Value Added systems for purposes of determining teacher effectiveness.
In the conversation that ensued, Caroline Grannan responded: “Always independently? With Broad now funding LAT education coverage?” and “*Appearance of conflict of interest* violates ethics, both LAT and EWA.”
To this, Toppo replied: “Lots of journalism outfits take foundation $. None of them independent?”
To which I replied: “Lots of politicians take lobbyist $. None of them independent?”
Toppo replied: “We’re getting off topic. If news orgs r transparent about $, they can totally be independent. Am I outlier on this??”