Jeb Bush crony called out for compellingly lousy educational research

From the Florida Times Union, by Teresa Stepzinski

He likely won’t be showcasing the award in his office.

But Matthew Ladner, a senior advisor of policy and research for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, has received inaugural “Get a Life(time) Achievement Award” for bunkum from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The NEPC Bunkum Awards are “presented for the most compellingly lousy educational research for the past year,” according to the center.

A video of the Bunkum Awards ceremony is available online at

The nonprofit center describes its mission as producing and disseminating high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions.

It presents the annual Bunkam Awards to highlight what it deems as “nonsensical, confusing and disingenuous education reports produced by think tanks: marvels of multi-colored packaging garnished with impressive-looking footnotes, charts and appendices, advocacy pieces cloaked in research panoply.”

The award winners “are the think tank experts reports judged to have the most egregiously undermined informed discussion and sound policy making in 2011”

This is the first time NEPC bestowed an individual with a Bunkum Award.

“We’ve never before found someone with an individual record of Bunkum-worthy accomplishments that just cries out for recognition,” said Kevin Welner, center director. “Dr. Ladner’s body of Bunk-work is focused on his shameless hawking of what he and the Governor call the ‘Florida Formula’ for educational success.”

Specifically, Ladner argues that because Florida’s test scores had increased during a time period when Florida policy included things like school choice and grade retention, these policies must be responsible for the scores. Yet decades of evidence link grade retention practices to increased dropout rates, not to improved achievement, according to Welner

Welner also said that Florida’s recent test score results are notably unimpressive, but Ladner continues to promote his favored policies, blaming the scores on a slide in home prices and other factors he says are “impossible” to determine.

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