Monday, June 11, 2012

Brookings Fellow Fired for Attacking Romney?

Was Diane Ravitch, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, fired for making comments that were critical of Romney?

In her blog, Ravitch speculates that her recent attacks on Mitt Romney may have led to her being let go by Russ Whitehurst, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies and Director of the Brown Center for Education Policy at Brookings. On May 22, 2012, Whitehurst was named as a committee member of Mitt Romney's Education Policy Advisory Group.

This apparently is the letter that Whitehurst sent to Ravitch announcing that she is being "fired."
Dear Diane,
If you have already received a communication from Brookings I apologize for the redundancy, but I wanted to make sure you were aware that you will not be reappointed as a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The background is that I, along with other center and program directors, was asked to review nonresident scholar appointments and make recommendations for reappointment based on past and planned activity. It has been many years since you were involved in a Governance Studies event, report, or commentary and there are no plans of which I’m aware for any such activity.
Thus I had no basis for recommending your reappointment, and I did not. I took the same position with respect to all nonresident scholars who are associated with the Brown Center but have been inactive.
It is not my place to speak on behalf of Brookings or Governance Studies, so on a personal note let me thank you for your contributions to research and thinking on education policy during the time when you were active at Brookings. One of the first things I did to try to get smarter about education when I was nominated to be assistant secretary for OERI was obtain and devour the Brookings Papers on Education Policy that you edited. There was nothing more valuable.
Best wishes,
Grover (Russ) Whitehurst

You can view the Ravitch's Romney attacks on her blog and in this piece for The New Review of Books.

In her blog, Ravitch talks about being terminated from Brookings for being "inactive" in Brookings debates.  Among other things, the blog notes that when she proposed to launch her book "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education" at Brookings two years ago, she was told that she would have to rent the auditorium "and pay a variety of expenses, which would amount to thousands of dollars."  She declined and instead accepted an invitation from Rick Hess to present her book at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  She said that AEI paid all of her expenses, including travel to DC.  You can watch that event here.