Investment Opportunities for Ed Reform “Experts”


Search no further than this article, “Ed Reform Experts Descend on Detroit,” to find the root issue with the so-called “ed reform” movement.

Who are these so-called educational “experts” pointed to in the headline? (And why do business leaders get the title of “expert,” while actual educational scholars are marginalized?) Upon just a little bit of research, it turns out their background is not in education, it is, surprise, in business.

Michael Petrelli is the CEO of The Fordham Institute, a right-wing, pro-charter think tank.  His background is business, not education.

Eric Chan is, as he describes himself in the article, “an investor.” He runs charter investment growth fund and has an MBA from Harvard. No educational background other than seeing education as a means of making money.

Why are these business leaders called educational “experts” in one of Michigan’s most prominent newspapers?

Actual educational expert and scholar Paul Thomas explains it this way:  “…politicians with little or no educational expertise or experience control education policy and journalists with little or no educational expertise or experience report on both the claims made by those politicians and the education reports coming from think tanks and advocacy groups posing as scholars.”

So why are Petrelli and Chan described as experts? Because they say so. And their think tanks and  businesses say so. And, rather than critiquing or researching or questioning, the Detroit News accepts, prints and publicizes. There is no mention of the ideology of the institutions Petrelli and Chan represent. There is no mention of their backgrounds, or their own ideology.  They are just accepted as “experts.”

What does this look  like in print?

“Both experts say that Detroit has done well opening the door to charter growth, but not on pairing that growth with excellence.”

So the assumption is that opening the door to charter growth is unequivocally a good thing.

Enter Chan.

“Chan’s non-profit group funds the top charter management organizations in the country, and he’d like to get involved in Detroit.”

Now, why does Chan so much want to get involved in Detroit? It seems, in spite of the status of his institution as a non-profit, he is actually an investor running an “growth fund” that looks for opportunity to create profit.  (See this, for instance, on the Rocketship Management company Chan’s fund supports.)

As he says, “As an investor, I’m optimistic…I sense you’re heading in the right direction.”

Can’t our media do better than this?