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EdSector: Full Statements On Toch, CMO Report

In this Education Week article Education Sector seems like it's trying to throw as many aspersions at "former employee" Tom Toch as possible (he's late, a bad writer, greedy).  At the same time, they're trying to keep the lid on the story by refusing to send me (and perhaps others) copies of statements they've issued to other media outlets. 

Mmw_miraclefruit_articleSo much for transparency, independence, and accountability and all that stuff.  (So much for previous incidents where Education Sector staffers have called out other think tanks and journalists for their work.)

But information wants to be free, and think tank watchers and funders and researchers and journalists might want to look closely at how this group is reacting to being questioned about its work and internal procedures.

Here's the full text of two written comments issued by EdSector in response to the dispute with co-founder Tom Toch and the suggestion that the CMO report was altered for ideological reasons.  Enjoy!

Statement from co-founder Andy Rotherham:

None.

Statement from Spokesperson Kristen Amundson:

There is some confusion about the recent Education Sector report, Growing Pains: Scaling Up the Nation's Best Charter Schools.

Education Sector began work on what became the Growing Pains report in 2007. In December of that year, we received a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation to support the work. The report was originally scheduled to be released in August 2008, but the analysis and writing took longer than expected.  

 A draft of the report was still incomplete in February 2009 when the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington appointed Thomas Toch, the report's primary author, as the private school association's next Executive Director.   (http://www.aisgw.org/news/detail.aspx?pageaction=viewsinglepublic&linkid=675&moduleid=156). Tom agreed to complete the report before formally leaving Education Sector (http://www.quickanded.com/2009/03/departure-lounge.html).

When Tom left Education Sector’s staff to join AIGSW, the report was still unfinished.  All Education Sector reports go through an extensive editing and quality assurance process, and Growing Pains needed substantial edits—as our reports often do—for length, clarity, and analytic soundness. It was our intention to work with Tom after his departure to complete the report. We did that with another paper, Matchmaking: Enabling Mandatory Public School Choice in New York and Boston, which was released on September 8. (http://www.educationsector.org/analysis/analysis_show.htm?doc_id=1017937).

However, as many times happens after an employee departs an organization, there was a dispute around compensation. On advice of Education Sector’s attorneys, we chose to no longer work with Tom to complete the report.  Because the report ultimately was a collaborative effort involving multiple persons, Education Sector decided to release it as an Education Sector report, but credit Tom for his reporting and interviews. Tom was provided an advance copy of the report. He asked us to remove his name from the acknowledgements, and Education Sector honored his request.

It is clear that charter schools will play a prominent role in the Obama administration's education reform agenda.  Yet there are real challenges to scaling charter schools. Previous Education Sector work  (See, for example, http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2009/06/17/close-underperforming-charter-schools-reward-those-that-work.html and http://www.educationsector.org/research/research_show.htm?doc_id=521913) has found a mixed record and many challenges for charter schooling overall.

We stand behind this report and all of our work on charter schools. We hope that this report, and our work overall, can inform the conversation about the role of educational choice in improving outcomes for American students.  

Statement from Managing Director Bill Tucker:

In June, Education Sector selected a group of national experts to serve as outside reviewers for the paper. Thomas Toch was fully involved in this decision-making and there was mutual agreement on the selections. Kim Smith was one of the national experts selected to serve as an outside reviewer and asked to read and respond to an early draft of the paper. Her comments were considered along with those of the other reviewers. Following the outside review, Kevin Carey made final edits to the paper. Carey and Smith have not communicated about the report since June.

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claus von zastrow notes that we haven't heard a peep from andy on his blog about the report or the controversy, and that the MSM has thus far been much slower to jump on the story than it was over the hoxby charter effectiveness study, for example.

good stuff and some interesting comments here:
http://www.publicschoolinsights.org/reporters-interesting-story

/ alexander

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