Seebach Skeptical of NEA-Funded Review Project

In Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News, columnist Linda Seebach brought attention to the biased, teachers union-funded Think Tank Review Project – featured on Mount Virtus back in January. When I publicly criticized the Project, I received a long, friendly email response from Project co-chair Kevin Welner. In our exchange, Welner and I came to agreement on our mutual respect for Ms. Seebach’s evenhanded, analytical approach.

A couple key grafs from Seebach’s column:

After the formal discussion was over, I broached that subject with Welner. He said there is no intention on anyone’s part to make the project political, and I have no reason to doubt his sincerity. He also said it’s difficult to find expert reviewers on the right, and I don’t doubt that either, given the political atmosphere in most ed schools.

Still, I urge you to go online and see how it has turned out, at epsl.asu.edu /epru/thinktankreview.htm. There are 16 reviews posted, and every one is about research published by think tanks that are right of center, and more specifically, that support greater parental choice in schools. Not all the research is about school choice, but a lot is. And the reviews are almost all highly negative.

And she concludes:

The NEA, or its agent, certainly has every right to provide funding for professors so they can carry out a project they are sincerely eager to do anyway. But it also has every right to withdraw funding if it decides it doesn’t care for the choices the professors make. And that’s a problem.

Having developed an apparent skepticism of the Project’s research attacking school choice, Seebach’s observations are spot on. And I’m glad she has added her voice to this conversation. A little transparency and a strong dose of healthy skepticism were all I ever asked for vis a vis the Think Tank Review Project.

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