The rise of large strategic philanthropies has shifted the political dynamics surrounding the production and use of research in education, particularly around market- and accountability-based reforms. Philanthropies fund think tanks, advocacy organizations, and centers to conduct research that will support their reform priorities, particularly charter schools, school vouchers, teacher merit pay, and parent trigger laws. These intermediaries have also been quite successful in using that research to persuade others to adopt their reform agendas in cities across the country. The proposed project extends the PIs’ prior Foundation-funded study that documented the role played by these intermediaries. The PIs will now examine whether intermediaries’ promotion of research may differ depending on a city’s governance structure and policy processes, as well as changes in political actors. In addition, they will examine whether non-partisan and independent research organizations, such as research–practice partnerships, shift the use of research evidence by local decision makers. The study will focus on Los Angeles and New York City, locations that have active intermediary sectors, but differ in their education governance structures and histories. Study participants will include policymakers, journalists, intermediary organization representatives, and university-based researchers.
How do intermediary organizations leverage research to drive education change across the country? How do intermediaries adapt to different political contexts?