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Education Policy Watchdogs Attract Interest

Several weeks ago, PLAN highlighted a new effort to expose rightwing talking points parading as research in the field of education. Today, Stateline.org profiles the same organization - the Think Tank Review Project of Arizona State University and the University of Colorado. The principle behind the project is clear. Across the country, sham research is being advanced by a network of rightwing think tanks. The research has little to do with reality and a lot to do with political goals. That doesn't stop newspapers and journalists from picking up the research, however. And, unfortunately, in many cases this research drives policy debates:
Many think tanks were founded to advance particular political agendas and have become adept at presenting ideological arguments disguised as research, [Think Tank Review Project co-director Kevin] Welner said. "Reporters and policymakers are not in the position to do their own detailed analysis of the methodology and data when they read these reports, so they're left to just trust the institutions that produce them," Welner told Stateline.org.
And trusting this institutions is not a good idea. The think tanks targeted for review are, needless to say, not happy. Humorously, though, rather than denying the charges, they have simply resorted to a "Well, they're political too" defense, which fails to answer the charges at all. And worth keeping in mind is that while the researchers at many of the rightwing think tanks often have no solid research background, the researchers at the Think Tank Review Project have solid credentials in the peer-reviewed world of academia.