The publication Science reports on some questions about a Trump administration appointee, a former Arkansan,  to head the National Center for Education Statistics.

Why questions? Probably because people in education are suspicious about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos‘ agenda-driven school politics.


And while statistics seem black and white, you know the old saying: 1) Lies, damn lies, statistics.

Some have raised questions about relevant background of the appointee, Lynn Woodworth, a former Harrison resident who’s been working at the right-wing Hoover Institute as a research analyst helping turn out its studies generally (but not always) supportive of charter schools.  I suspect that background, plus his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas “education reform” unit that serves as a propaganda agency for the “choice” agenda, of its financier, the Walton Foundation, contribute more to questions than his math skills. Sounds like a smart guy. He’s a former Marine intelligence officer who monitored Arabic communication; a former music teacher and a former Arkansas band director at Mansfield.


Here’s the underlying issue:

As a statistical agency, however, NCES is supposed to remain above the political fray. The results of its surveys are meant to help policymakers make informed choices, not to sway discussions by tinkering with the ways information is gathered, assessed, and presented.

Previous commissioners have walked that fine line and defended the agency’s independence, say both [Obama-era commissioner Jack] Buckley and [UA’s Jay] Greene, even to the point of self-criticism. In 2006, then-Commissioner Mark Schneider faulted his staff for its analysis of the results of a study, begun before he became commissioner, comparing the academic performance of students at public and private schools. That’s not what NCES should be doing, he told the trade publication Education Week.

“Our job is to collect the data and get it out the door” to researchers, Schneider said at the time. “What you do with it is your business.” Schneider left NCES in 2008, but his view of the agency still matters: In late November 2017, he was nominated to become IES director, that is, Woodworth’s boss, and is awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

Buckley says he doesn’t know Woodworth’s personal views on charter schools and other topics. But he thinks it would be wrong to assume that they would shape his actions as NCES commissioner. Woodworth declined a request from ScienceInsider to comment on his appointment.

 In other agencies, Trump appointees have often lived up to ideological hints  Jay Greene says he is well qualified.