A Puff Piece For Paul Peterson And Poly Sci

The Education Sector's sophomore publication, an 11-page profile of Harvard political scientist Paul Peterson, looks at first like something that you'd find in Education Next, the contrarian magazine Peterson edits (and that I write for occasionally) or in a regular newspaper or magazine -- except it's not nearly as interesting or persuasive.

I'm not sure how it happened or what the Sectorans were going for, but this disappointing profile (by former Philadelphia Inquirer education writer Dale Mezzacappa) comes out so bland and without supporting facts that it's hard to know if Peterson really deserves credit for bringing political scientists to education -- and even harder to tell if the arrival of the polysci crowd has made any a difference (to education research, or policymaking, or kids) that we should care about. A handful of proteges and name recognition don't really make the case.

None of this is helped by the fact that neither Peterson nor anyone else's work on vouchers has settled the debate or created widespread momentum for them, that the quality of education research remains hotly debated, and that political scientists have been replaced by economists as the novelty of the day in education research. As for the Education Sector, well, it says it wants to be "journalistic" in its work. In journalism, this is called a puff piece.


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