Bush Policy Aviser Mocked for “Most Compellingly Lousy Education Research of the Past Year”

Matt Lander, a key policy and research aid to Jeb Bush, referred to “teachers and their unions” to Hitler’s forces in an ALEC paper this summer. His intellectually flawed and dishonest work  received just due this week. rom Teresa Stepzinski in the Florida Times-Union:

He likely won’t be showcasing the award in his office.

But Matthew Ladner, a senior advisor of policy and research for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, has received inaugural “Get a Life(time) Achievement Award” for bunkum from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The NEPC Bunkum Awards are “presented for the most compellingly lousy educational research for the past year,” according to the center.

A video of the Bunkum Awards ceremony is available online at http://nepc.colorado.edu/think-tank/bunkum-awards/2011.

The nonprofit center describes its mission as producing and disseminating high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions.

It presents the annual Bunkam Awards to highlight what it deems as “nonsensical, confusing and disingenuous education reports produced by think tanks: marvels of multi-colored packaging garnished with impressive-looking footnotes, charts and appendices, advocacy pieces cloaked in research panoply.”

The award winners “are the think tank experts reports judged to have the most egregiously undermined informed discussion and sound policy making in 2011”

This is the first time NEPC bestowed an individual with a Bunkum Award.

“We’ve never before found someone with an individual record of Bunkum-worthy accomplishments that just cries out for recognition,” said Kevin Welner, center director. “Dr. Ladner’s body of Bunk-work is focused on his shameless hawking of what he and the Governor call the ‘Florida Formula’ for educational success.”

Specifically, Ladner argues that because Florida’s test scores had increased during a time period when Florida policy included things like school choice and grade retention, these policies must be responsible for the scores. Yet decades of evidence link grade retention practices to increased dropout rates, not to improved achievement, according to Welner

Welner also said that Florida’s recent test score results are notably unimpressive, but Ladner continues to promote his favored policies, blaming the scores on a slide in home prices and other factors he says are “impossible” to determine.

Learn more at http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/learning-from-florida.

Isn’t it telling that Jeb Bush would rely so heavily on a discredited clown like Ladner? Doesn’t it show that his foundations aren’t able to advance public policy above-board?  Another chief policy adviser, Patricia Levesque, said at an October 2010 meeting that she planned to introduce “decoy legislation” that would allow certain charter bills to “fly under the radar”. Levesque was successful in getting two coercive bills passed: a high performing charter school bill and one which took final oversight for charter school away from local school boards and  put it in the hands of Bush’s political appointees at the Board of Education.

Bush told NPR this week that he “he really doesn’t care” about criticism. He apparently also doesn’t care about the manner in which he achieves his objectives either. For Jeb Bush, the ends justifies the means.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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