"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open letter to David Welch, Eli Broad, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and their Students Matter Astroturf

"And not merely pride of intellect, but dulness of intellect. And most of all, the deceitfulness; yes, the deceitfulness of intellect" — Leo Tolstoy

David Welch, Eli Broad, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher propagate liesTo David Welch, Eli Broad, Theodore J. Boutrous, Theane Evangelis Kapur, Theodore B. Olson, Enrique A. Monagas, and Joshua S. Lipshutz:

Your Students Matter website explicitly states "When it comes to education quality, numerous studies show that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement."

Can you please produce even one peer reviewed study from a legitimate source that backs up that assertion?

As a person closely associated with top academicians in the field of education research and policy, I am not aware of any study that makes such a brazen and strident claim.

Indeed, even Eric A. Hanushek, an economist who shares your unfortunate politics and world view, has found that teachers account for no more than 13% of student achievement. A far cry from the declaration on your website, which, in the absence of any factual basis, is mendacious at best.

Since you're billionaires, businessmen, and attorneys it's safe to assume your knowledge on issues of pedagogy and education policy is negligible. With that in mind, I'll do you a favor and clarify your grossly erroneous statement, albeit even the correction is lacking nuance and context. What some initial studies have shown is that teachers are the largest of in-school factors impacting student achievement. I refer you to the aforementioned Hanushek findings to put that into some context.

I understand that neither your law firm, nor the astroturf public relations 501(c)(3) you created to disseminate misinformation, are interested in facts. That said, I felt a moral obligation to let you know that many community members are not fooled by your propaganda.

I taught bilingual catechism, primarily at St. Teresa of Avila Church, for a dozen or so years. One of the things we had to teach young children about was the definition of a lie. This idea was simple enough for 7-9 year olds to comprehend: "when you say something that you know is untrue, it's a lie." Sadly that concept is seemingly too complex for high powered litigators like yourselves to grasp.

Advocating public education and social justice

Robert D. Skeels

Candidate for District 2, Los Angeles Unified School District

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