In the television series called “The Wire,” there is an episode dedicated to “juking the stats.” Since it is a program about the police, criminals, and the drug trade, “juking the stats” means that the officials were able to manipulate crime data to show that crime was up–requiring more police–or down–showing their success in slowing a crime wave. Now we know that the corporate education reform movement has become expert at “juking the stats” to make public schools look bad so that the “reformers” can privatize them.


Many years ago, David Berliner and Bruce Biddle wrote a book called The Manufactured Crisis, describing how certain think tanks and government officials were manipulating data to make it appear to the public that the schools were in crisis. A gullible media, loving sensational stories about the “failure” of our schools, reported the “reformer” claims without bothering to check facts.


The corporate reformers of our day thrive on their own manufactured crisis. They seize upon any factoid to make schools and teachers look bad. They ignore the compelling facts that our schools are underfunded and overwhelmed with the problems of children in poverty. The corporate reformers’ solution to the problems they identify: More testing, more privatization. They think that students get smarter if they are tested more often, so more tests. They assume that privately managed schools must be superior to public schools, despite clear evidence that they do not produce better results and–unregulated and unsupervised–many are vulnerable to corruption, nepotism, self-dealing, and fraud.


In this article, Carol Burris shows how the college remediation rate has been shamelessly inflated by corporate reformers intent on advancing their agenda of privatization. Chief among those who have overstated the remediation rate is Secretary of Education Duncan, who said in Massachusetts that the college remediation rate was 40% when it was about half that number. As she demonstrates, one “reform” think tank announces the “crisis” of a 40% college remediation rate, and others soon repeat it until it becomes conventional wisdom. But it is not true. Like almost all the data trotted out by the reform crowd, it is inflated to promote their political agenda of privatization. Or they use their doctored stats to promote the Common Core, even though there is no evidence whatever that Common Core will make every student “college and career ready.” The campaign for Common Core increasingly looks like an advertising gambit that promises that your clothes will be cleaner than ever, your teeth will be whiter than ever, your weight will drop in a matter of days, if only you use this product.


When will the reformers target the root causes of low academic performance: poverty, segregation, and inequitable allocation of resources? Ever.