The Century Foundation is supposed to be a liberal foundation. I had numerous contacts with it when it was previously known as The Twentieth Century Fund. My most memorable experience involved my membership on a task force in 1983 or so, which prepared a critique of American education and the need for reform. For that era, our task force report was fairly run-of-the-mill. What was remarkable was that our staff director disagreed with the task force. He wrote a ringing defense of our public schools and took issue with the conclusions of the report. His name was Paul Petersen. He is now one of the leading critics of public schools, now one of the most widely published advocates for vouchers and charters. Well, we switched sides.

Fast forward to the present.

The Twentieth Century Fund is now the Century Fund. My ex-husband served on its board for many years. It has a reputation for its careful research and sober findings.

But last year, the Century Fund released a report about how charter schools can promote “diversity by design,” identifying 125 charter schools that promote diversity.

This raised eyebrows because charters have frequently been criticized for promoting segregation, most notably by the UCLA Center on Civil Rights.

The report was remarkable because it was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the anti-union, pro-privatization foundation of the billionaires who own Walmart. The Waltons say they have funded one-fourth of all charters in the nation. Since when does a liberal think tank take funding from a rightwing foundation and deliver a product that supports their charter crusade?

Last year, a parent activist complained about the bias of the report. She wrote her commentary on Leonie Haimson’s parent blog. Haimson, introducing her comments, pointed out a big flaw in the study. She wrote: This list of 125 schools was selected from 5,692 charter schools – only a tiny number.  The methodology is also questionable.  The authors identify these schools by analyzing their enrollment, websites and survey responses from school leaders.  Though the Century Foundation sent their survey about diversity to 971 charter schools, only 86 responded – which means that nearly 40 schools were put on the list even though the school leaders couldn’t be bothered to answer their survey.

This year, the Century Foundation recently accepted a grant of $407,053 from the Gates Foundation “to support the Century Foundation in addressing misconceptions that charter schools exacerbate racial and socioeconomic segregation.”

Read the wording again. TCF is not being funded to inquire whether charter schools exacerbate segregation but to “address misconceptions” that they do. This is not research. It is a contract to provide support for an opinion that challenges the scholarship of people like Gary Orfield at UCLA and Helen Ladd at Duke.