New book debunks Obama education policy... Another 'triumph of rhetoric over sound research...'

A new book published on September 29, 2010, takes on the research foundations of the education policies of the Obama administration and finds that they are as flawed as the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" promotions. Ideology, not science, is still guiding the national policies on education, according to the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

Arne Duncan's habit of making up facts to win arguments and lying to the public has now become the national policy of the Obama administration's U.S. Department of Education. Above, Duncan gestures during the heated discussions at the February 27, 2008 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education about Duncan's proposal to close more than a dozen Chicago public schools under Mayor Daley's "Renaissance 2010" program. Behind Duncan is Board member and Exelon Corporation lawyer Peggy Davis, one of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education appointed by Daley. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The following is from the press release dated September 29, 2010, announcing the publication of "The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence," released today (September 29, 2010) from the NEPC.

Reauthorization of the ESEA Demands Less Rhetoric, More Understanding of Research... New Book from NEPC Provides Analysis of Obama Administration’s Education Blueprint, Offering Valuable Scrutiny of Education Policy Claims

BOULDER, CO (September 29, 2010) – As Congress and the Obama administration prepare to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), high-quality research is not informing the process. In May, the U.S. Department of Education released six research summaries in support of its “Blueprint for Reform” — its proposals for ESEA reauthorization.

But a new book from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), "The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence," finds that the research cited by the Department does not provide solid support for its proposals.

The book provides a topic-by-topic research review, with analysis by some of the top scholars on the respective topics. Its publication is accompanied by a congressional briefing held today at the Hart Senate Office Building (SH-216) at 1:30pm.

“When No Child Left Behind was signed into law nearly a decade ago, it was a triumph of rhetoric over sound research,” said William J. Mathis, NEPC’s managing director and co-editor of the new book. “With ESEA now up for renewal, our children and our nation require we not make the same mistakes again. NEPC is committed to the idea that policy should be based on sound evidence. The reviews offered in this book will provide our elected officials with a clear understanding of what the research truly says about proposals in the Obama administration’s Education Blueprint.”

The NEPC book offers six reviews, written by independent scholars. Yet, as Welner notes, “while each review has its own specific findings, it is striking that strong overarching themes emerged from the individual reviews.” Each reviewer found, for instance, that the research she or he examined was of inadequate quality. Other themes include:

• Key omissions, such as the Blueprint’s accountability system and the rationale for competitive grants, as well as an undeveloped explanation and support for intervention models — despite these being centerpieces of the administration’s education reform efforts;

• A focus on problems, as opposed to providing research to support the Blueprint’s proposed solutions;

• Extensive use of non-research and advocacy sources to justify policy recommendations; and

• An overwhelming reliance, with little or no research justification, on standardized test scores as a measure of student learning and school success.

"The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence" includes the following chapters:

• Assessing the Research Base of “A Blueprint for Reform,” William J. Mathis and Kevin G. Welner

• A Review of “College- and Career Ready Students,” Diane Ravitch and William J. Mathis

• A Review of “Great Teachers and Great Leaders,” Paul Shaker

• A Review of “A Complete Education,” Beth Warren

• A Review of “Meeting the Needs of English Learners and Other Diverse Learners,” Janette Klingner

• A Review of “Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students,” Gene V Glass, W. Steven Barnett, and Kevin G. Welner

• A Review of “Fostering Innovation and Excellence,” Clive Belfield

The book, edited by William J. Mathis and Kevin G. Welner of the University of Colorado at Boulder, is published by Information Age Publishing.

Funding for the NEPC’s Think Tank Review Project is provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit . 
Nikki Rashada McCord, NEPC
(303) 735-5290


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

1 + 3 =