BOULDER, CO (February 23, 2016) – With the Oscar celebration next week, and the Emmys and Pulitzers on the way, the National Education Policy Center announces this year’s winner of its Bunkum Award. We invite you to enjoy our 10th annual tongue-in-cheek salute to the most egregiously shoddy think tank reports.
It’s not easy to laugh when data are manipulated and made to fit foregone conclusions or when the research literature is misrepresented or ignored and low-quality or dishonest “evidence” has real impact on policy and on children. As best we can tell, polar bears aren’t laughing at reports from the American Petroleum Institute.
Yet “humor is one of the best ingredients of survival,” according to Aung San Suu Kyi—whose travails have been far weightier than ours. So we will persevere in our commitment to having a bit of fun each year with the evidentiary farce-lympics.
The Think Twice Think Tank Review Project arose as a response to the often-outsized policy influence of glossy, well-publicized reports that have not been vetted by peer-review. These reports regularly wrap themselves in the veneer of research, but they are frequently little more than propaganda masquerading as social science.
This year’s awards announcement, available on the NEPC website, is hosted by Dr. David Berliner, the Regents’ Professor Emeritus and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State University. Berliner is a member of the National Academy of Education and the International Academy of Education, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a past president of the American Educational Research Association, and a widely recognized scholar of educational psychology and policy.
The 2015 Bunkum Winner
This year’s winner is the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, for Separating Fact from Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools. The National Alliance (NAPCS) describes itself as “the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.” Separating Fact from Fiction is a fetching, sleek publication adorned with 15 charming photos of smiling children keeping watch over 21 easy-to-digest, alleged “myths” followed by responses that the report generously describes as “facts.” Yet Separating Fact from Fiction might more honestly be titled:
Playing 21 with a Stacked Deck
Blackjacked! 21 Attempts to Club Sound Policy.