Saturday, June 17, 2017

WILL's Faulty School Voucher Study Cheered by Other Bradley Funded Groups | PR Watch

WILL's Faulty School Voucher Study Cheered by Other Bradley Funded Groups | PR Watch:

WILL's Faulty School Voucher Study Cheered by Other Bradley Funded Groups

 A recent foray into education "research" by the Bradley Foundation's Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is a case study not only in politically motivated research, but also in how the Bradley-funded echo chamber operates to inflate questionable claims and stave off critics.

The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is perhaps best known for its advocacy of private and religious school vouchers. Bradley was instrumental in creating the nation's first voucher "experiment" in Milwaukee in 1990. A new cache of internal Bradley documents has come to light, which pull back the curtain on the $835 million organization and its efforts to advance school privatization, attack teachers unions and construct right-wing "infrastructure" nationwide.
The study in question is one that WILL released on March 1, 2017, purporting to show students in Milwaukee's private and religious voucher school program outperforming students in Milwaukee's public schools. Had WILL's conclusions been accurate, they would have contradicted consistent research findings from the last two decades showing Milwaukee voucher students fared worse or no better than their public school counterparts and several very recent studies showing voucher students throughout the nation faring extremely poorly.
Instead, the release of WILL's study showed that when one Bradley-backed organization speaks, numerous others rise up to echo it, and some mainstream news outlets are snookered by the noise.
The Center for Media and Democracy documented recently that the Bradley Foundation has poured at least $3.65 million into WILL since 2011. It has also received support from the Walton Family Foundation in 2014-2015, $585,000 according to IRS filings. Bradley funded WILL primarily to be a "litigation center" to aid the fight over school vouchers, to attack public sector unions and to backstop Wisconsin's right-wing infrastructure. For instance, Bradley notes, "WILL has represented School Choice Wisconsin in various actions against the Department of Public Instruction," (WILL, GPR, 11/10/15). And WILL filed an amicus brief in Duncan v. Nevada supporting the universal voucher program providing taxpayer money for private and religious schools, struck down by that state's highest court.
But Bradley's favorite litigation team is "morphing" into a think tank, say the Bradley documents, and producing studies on education. The stakes are high. The Bradley Foundation has spent untold millions supplementing Milwaukee voucher schools and advancing school vouchers in cities and states in partnership with the Walton's and Betsy DeVos' American Federation for Children. With DeVos now the head of the U.S. Department of Education, any study touting purported benefits of vouchers will be seized upon as Gospel by DeVos and Trump in their effort to expand vouchers nationwide.

Not "Apples to Apples"

WILL's March 1 report, Apples to Apples: The definitive look at school test scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, authored by WILL research director Will Flanders who has a PhD in political science, compared, for a single school WILL's Faulty School Voucher Study Cheered by Other Bradley Funded Groups | PR Watch:

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