Letters to the Editor: Karen Bass’ scholarship problem looks bad. Don’t ignore it
Karen S. Bass
Editor’s note: This letter has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Recently, a group was put together to write a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal with some suggestions on how, if possible, we might improve our education. At the last minute, the group chose Karen Bass as one of three scholars to receive the letter.
As the letter writer of record, I will address my comments to Karen Bass, who is one of the three scholars in the letter group but not one of its authors. The purpose of this letter is to call attention to the fact that Bass did not use any of the ideas in the Wall Street Journal recommendation and her article on the role of race in education.
While the letter was not specifically written to attack Ms. Bass, and I understand that that’s not the intent, her scholarship problem looks bad. While I certainly agree that her scholarship is poor when it comes to testing the hypothesis of race and inequality in education, it’s also not uncommon for scholars to write articles based on one experiment or measurement, while in other cases not using the measurement or experiment.
I will discuss in this letter more about the purpose of the project that resulted in the letter and why Ms. Bass did not include the ideas in her presentation.
On Sept. 23, 2014, Ms. Bass reviewed the Wall Street Journal article “Race and Class as Drivers of Inequality in Education” by William Julius Wilson. Her reaction was that the article was a “misrepresentation of the research literature” and that the journal was “not the right source of information to understand the research.” In her review of the article, she observed that the author “does not consider [the literature on the role of race and/or income in education].”
I can only assume that she reviewed the article in its entirety to check that it was based on studies that have examined the evidence for the relationship between race, income and education and concluded that it was not the right source to understand the evidence, because the article did not mention the literature that she had reviewed. It did not discuss any of the studies cited by the author, including those of other scholars and the results of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on all race and/