1) A well-heeled think-tank puts out a report - like, say, the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching - that confirms the previously articulated predilections of its funding source.
2) Since the report is published by a think tank funded by a wealthy celebrity, its conclusions are widely disseminated throughout the press.
3) But the report is not subject to peer review, which means it isn't vetted by experts in the field before its conclusions are reported to the public.
4) Several experts quickly review the report and weigh in. Even in their initial and cursory reactions, they find gaping holes in the methods and conclusions of the report. They demonstrate an abuse of mathematics that renders the presentation of results meaningless. They rebuke the circular logic of validating measures by showing a high correlation of those measures with themselves. They expose the flaws in actually implementing the report's conclusions as policies.
Mind you, these are just the preliminary reviews of critics. Given time, there are sure to be more comprehensive critiques of the report. But by then, it won't matter, because...
5) The punditocracy, which does not even begin to understand the issues at hand, happily embraces the conclusions of the report and calls for an immediate upending of the "status quo" without first engaging in any dialogue with the report's critics.
And so it goes. Our nation's conversation about education is dangerously goofy. But, to be fair: we also have ridiculous discussions about economics, climate change, foreign policy, and pretty much everything else.
It's how we roll.
You mean we shouldn't just accept everything that comes from the Gates Foundation?