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Monday, February 18, 2008

One Degree of Separation?

Two weeks ago, I posted an entry ("More Editorial Nonsense in the Major NYC Newspapers") taking rather strident issue with a NY Daily News editorial by one Kevin Carey. In his editorial piece, Carey likened the DOE's plans to evaluate individual teacher performance in NYC public schools using mathematical "value-added" models based on their students' standardized test performance to the multi-variable models used by baseball executives like Oakland's Billy Beane.

At the time, I opted not to mention Mr. Carey's background other than to state that he is an education policy analyst for Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank. I chose not to state that Mr. Carey is not a NYC public school parent or that he has zero connection to NYC public schools (although he has extensive connections to that paragon of progressive, liberal education, the State of Indiana -- my own home state through my college years).

A fascinating new exploration and blog posting by Eduwonkette puts a new wrinkle on Mr. Carey's rather spirited (albeit, off base) defense of the DOE and its educationally ruinous plans to rate teachers based on their students' standardized test results. It turns out, thanks to Ms. Eduwonkette's legwork, that Mr. Carey's employer, Education Sector, has a directorial interlock with, among many others, the Broad Foundation's Broad Prize for Urban Education. Recall that the DOE treated its receipt of the Broad Prize earlier this year as a major public relations coup as well as an ostensible vindication of its policies.

Education Sector's relationship to the Broad Prize is hardly an incidental one. Among the distinguished members of their Review Board is Andrew Rotherman, co-founder and co-Director of Education Sector. Was Mr. Carey's editorial submission to the Daily News intended as a defense of the Broad Prize award to which his organization's most senior manager was a party? Difficult to say, but Mr. Carey's election not to disclose this bit of information certainly leaves one wondering about his sudden enthusiasm for Chancellor Klein's teacher evaluation plans.

As a closing point, Mr. Carey's response on Education Sector's blogsite to my posting was quick to state that I didn't know what I was talking about while repeating the same faulty analysis and missing entirely the point of my criticism. Furthermore, their response to Eduwonkette was even more haughtily dismissive -- three paragraphs of "So what?" accompanied by a picture of a yawning baby -- lest anyone so uncredentialed should dare question a think tank's positions or motivations. Given this extensive web of connections in the ed policy club, it's hardly surprising to find them so suddenly supportive of a Schools Chancellor whose programs are widely reviled among the City's informed public school parents.

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