Censorship at the Department of Education?

For the past few years, many ACRL members have been concerned about changes to the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education and with the direction of federally-supported programs like the National Library of Education and ERIC. For those who have not followed these issues, let me recommend the EBSS ERIC News site and a brief story that appeared in Education Week (“Basement No Bargain for Agency Library,” January 29, 2003).

The March issue of Educational Researcher carries a disturbing essay by Alan H. Schoenfeld (UC-Berkeley) on the possibility that the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences may have been involved in an attempt to squelch the publication of essays critical of one its recent innovations, the What Works Clearinghouse.

From the abstract:

“An early version of this article . . . was written for the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which funds WWC, instructed WWC not to publish it. An expanded version, written at WWC’s invitation for a special issue of an independent electronic journal and a book to be published by WWC, argued that methodological problems rendered some WWC mathematics reports potentially misleading and/or uninterpretable. IES instructed WWC staff not to publish their chapters – thus canceling the publication of the special issue and the book. Those actions, chronicled here, raise important questions concerning the role of federal agencies and their contracting organizations in suppressing scientific research that casts doubt on current or intended federal policy.”

Talk about an “open access” problem!

For those following the direct link above, please note that there are additional materials (including a response from WWC staff) available from the home page for the March 2006 issue.

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