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Mon Oct 14, 2013, 02:03 PM


Philanthropy and Sycophancy

This is a *great* interview that Dr. Ravitch linked to last week.

(Notice I'm calling her *DR.* Ravitch now. Maybe its catching. Nah. Relax: she's not giving me any money. I swear.)

Anyway... it's an unusually edifying look at some of the psycho-dynamics at work in the camp of the ersatz "reformers".

>>>ES: I love your line about sycophancy being built into the very structure of philanthropy. You say that philanthropists and foundation executives almost never receive critical feedback. So do they not realize that the $1 billion a year they’re spending on education reform isn’t exactly producing a huge ROI, as an edupreneur might say?

Barkan: Once upon a time these mega-foundations would set a goal and then seek out experts to do independent research to help them figure out how to achieve it. But that’s really fallen by the wayside. Today the foundations start with a preconceived notion about the social problem and its solution. And they fund researchers who are likely to design studies that will support their ideas. It’s very much as though a big philanthropist who has never been to the ballet decides to back a ballet company and says you can have all of this money—it will save your company. But there are a few rules: you can only perform Swan Lake, the orchestra can only play violins and all of your dancers have to be below 5’5”. None of this makes any sense but the “study” that the philanthropist is also funding will show that it’s a success.>>>>


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