Information Pollution in an Age of Populist Politics
Malin, Joel R
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The increasing influence of private interests in public policy has been facilitated by a growth in sources of “alternative” information and expertise. In education, teachers and schools are often the targets of these sources. This has been associated with a new political economy where private interests advance reform agendas largely through funding new information sources that ignore long-standing empirical evidence on factors shaping school outcomes in favor of anecdotes and misunderstandings about issues in education. This manuscript argues “information pollution” relative to U.S. politics and policy is presently at crisis levels, and that it is particularly acute relative to education policy. In this policy area, we show how special interests are using (mis)information strategies to purportedly elevate parent voices but are in effect promoting the interests of private actors and de-professionalizing both expertise and educators. We seek to understand this major issue, placing it within a broader sociopolitical context. The concluding discussion considers what might be required to move in a healthier direction that would bring U.S. education policy and practice into closer alignment with evidence and expertise.
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