Follow the Money

Daniel Katz, an assistant professor of educational studies at Seton Hall University offers some suggestions on How to Spot a Fake Grassroots Education Reform Group.

Genuine grassroots organizations cannot just pop up out of nowhere, grow by 1000s of members practically overnight, afford slick web designs, afford Manhattan rent and big staffs.  But without knowing what to look for it can be difficult for the casual observer, or even a working teacher, to spot the signs of a group that is more AstroTurf than grassroots.

Although Katz makes great points all the way through the post, for me it all boils down to his question “Who is funding the group and for how much?”.

When the answer is organizations like “the Koch brothers, conservative financier Rex Sinquefield, Rupert Murdoch, The Walton Family Foundation, and the American Federation for Children, which is a charter supporting organization”, as it was for the group Katz used for his example, the lack of grassroots becomes crystal clear.

In addition to fake reform groups, follow the money is also good advice for assessing educational research, survey results, “miracle” school turnarounds, and “innovative” edtech startups.