I have admired Emily Talmage’s fierce independence and intelligence and have posted many of her columns. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she attacked me because I was a judge on the MacArthur Foundation’ s competition to award a $100 million gift.

She was astonished that I had anything to do with this dreadful Foundation.

She invited me to respond.

This was my comment on her blog:


“I was invited some months ago by the MacArthur Foundation to be one of hundreds of reviewers for their $100 million contest for a single great idea. The foundation received 2,000 applications. I reviewed 10. A few were not very good ideas. Some were very impressive. They were submitted by well qualified teams of experts with sound ideas about alleviating hunger, poverty, disease, and other major problems, in this country and in impoverished countries. None of the ideas I approved were profit-making ventures.

“I was not paid for doing this. It was an interesting assignment, to which I devoted a few hours one evening.

“I was not asked to review the MacArthur Foundation. In my extensive readings of nefarious organizations, I don’t recall coming across the MacArthur Foundation as a funder. Had I been asked to do a similar assignment for the Walton Foundation or the Broad Foundation or the CZI or the Gates Foundation, I would have said no.

“I know the MacArthur Foundation only for its “genius” awards, which I have never seen as controversial.

“I make no apologies for judging 10 of 2,000 proposals.

“You can reach any conclusion you wish.

“I am not your enemy. You have read my blog. You know where I stand on testing, privatization, and CBE. Frankly, I was surprised that you would write as if I were not on your side. News flash: I am your ally.”

Diane Ravitch