President’s Comment: Philanthropy and Education Research at AERA 2017

Recent years have witnessed important new works questioning the role of philanthropy in education research and education reform. Sparked by Rick Hess and colleagues in With the Best of Intentions (2005) and The New Education Philanthropy (2015), provocative new books such as Sarah Reckhow’s Follow the Money (2012), Megan Tompkins-Stange’s Policy Patrons (2016), and Michael Feuer’s The Rising Price of Objectivity (2016) ask whether the substantial resources that philanthropic organizations bring to education do more harm than good.

Of course, charitable interests in education are not new, and despite what may seem like large sums of private dollars, philanthropic funding of education and education reform pales in comparison to government investments. Nonetheless it is worth asking how we can get the most out of the philanthropic community’s “value added” to research and reform.

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, taking place in San Antonio, I’ll have the chance to discuss and debate this issue with the authors of two of the recent books, Sarah Reckhow and Michael Feuer, and another funder, John Easton, who has worked on both the public and private sides of education research funding, formerly as director of the Institute of Education Sciences and now as vice president of the Spencer Foundation. Michael McPherson, the esteemed outgoing president of the Spencer Foundation, will moderate the session.

Advancing Education Research: Trends and Challenges in the Landscape of Private and Public Funding
Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Room 305

Other AERA sessions of special interest include:

Innovative Strategies for the Diffusion and Utilization of Education Research
Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Room 302 A&B

Improving the use of research evidence in policy and practice is one of the core interests of the William T. Grant Foundation. In this session, senior vice president Vivian Tseng will discuss new directions for research in this domain.

Early Career Research Funding: Dissertation, Postdoctoral, and Small-Grant Support

Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Room 209

In this session I will be joined by colleagues from the Spencer Foundation and AERA to discuss early career research funding opportunities offered by our organizations.

Mixed-Methods Studies for Large-Scale Research Projects in Education
Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Room 303C

Mixed-methods research has long been a hallmark of studies supported by the William T. Grant Foundation. In this session, participants from a recent working group on advancing the use of mixed methods in education research, sponsored by the Spencer Foundation, will report their findings. I will have a chance to comment, along with Elizabeth Albro from the Institute of Education Sciences.

Adam Gamoran is President of the William T. Grant Foundation.

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