Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Brookings Sullies Its Reputation By Aligning with DeVos Agenda for Privatization | Diane Ravitch's blog

Brookings Sullies Its Reputation By Aligning with DeVos Agenda for Privatization | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Brookings Sullies Its Reputation By Aligning with DeVos Agenda for Privatization



The Brookings Institution used to be referred to as a liberal think tank. In reality, it was a nonpartisan think tank that hired former high-level officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations and produced valuable studies and reports. As I was ending my time in the first Bush administration in late 1992, the president of Brookings came to my office at the US Department of Education and invited me to accept the Brown Chair in Education Policy. Since I did not want to live permanently in DC, I declined his offer but agreed to be a Senior Fellow. I was in residence at Brookings until 1995, wrote a book on national standards, then returned to Brooklyn. I continued to be a Non-Resident Senior Fellow until 2012, when I was summarily fired from my unpaid position by Grover Whitehurst, who joined Brookings as chair of the Brown Policy program after serving as director of education research in the George W. Bush administration. Perhaps it was happenstance, but the email from Whitehurst came a few hours after the online release of my blistering critique of Mitt Romney, whom Whitehurst was advising. Whitehurst fired me because, he said, I was “inactive.”
Whitehurst served for a few years as head of the Brown Center but was quietly removed as the Chair. Now, he uses Brookings and its prestige to promote the Republican agenda of privatization.
Here is the latest, in which Whitehurst plugs charters because “We do not know how to create or sustain uniformly great neighborhood schools.” He should have added that “We also don’t know how to create or sustain uniformly great charter schools.” There is no existence proof, even though charters choose their students and exclude students with serious disabilities and ELLs and push out behavior problems. Residents of Clark County, Nevada, may be surprised to see that he raised their grade, since most charters in Nevada are failing schools, concentrated in Clark County, and the funding for the voucher program (which he hails) has been halted by state courts. Columbus, Ohio, got good marks even though the scandal-ridden charters in Ohio have become a bad joke.
To make sure that everyone noticed that Brookings was linking its reputation to the most controversial, least qualified member of the Trump cabinet, DeVos was invited to speak at the press conference on the only subject she knows: the glories of school choice.
The press release reads:
School Choice Increasing Nationally; Secretary DeVos to Speak at Release of Brookings’ Annual School Choice Rankings
Proportion of large school districts allowing choice has nearly doubled since 2000; Denver wins top spot for large districts for second year in a row
Rankings from Brookings’ 2016 Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI)—an annual ranking of school choice in the nation’s 100 largest school districts—will be unveiled today at a Brookings event featuring keynote remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. You can watch a livestream of the Secretary’s remarks at 9:30 AM EDT.
In a summary of the results (PDF), ECCI’s author and Brookings Senior Fellow Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst highlights the growth of choice across the nation’s school districts according to trends tracked by ECCI, many of which can be observed since 2000. Whitehurst notes that the proportion of large school districts allowing choice has nearly doubled over the past 16 years. That coincides with other measures of the growth of school choice, including that the number of large districts for which charter school enrollment is at least 30 percent of total public enrollment has increased from one to ten.
Whitehurst writes: “There is no question empirically that opportunities for parents to choose among traditional public schools for their children, to Brookings Sullies Its Reputation By Aligning with DeVos Agenda for Privatization | Diane Ravitch's blog:

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