Bogus WPRI-funded Research Released
Researcher failed to disclose source of funding, included leading questions
MADISON – Today, a University of Chicago professor released the “raw data” of a suspect survey funded by the right-wing think tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI). Among other things, WPRI has promoted the privatization of public education through the failed voucher school experiment, promoted right to work legislation and argued for the dismantling of competitive wages for public projects. WPRI is a member of the State Policy Network, an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which uses think tanks like WPRI to push out right-wing policies in states around the country.
“WPRI has been at the forefront in pushing for privatization of public education,” stated Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), who attended a noon press conference by William Howell, the professor who conducted the suspect study. “They don’t do research just to gauge public opinion, but to push specific right-wing policies that support their agenda. No wonder Professor Howell failed to disclose the source of his funding on the survey and failed to allow participants to provide individual answers outside of selected choices, which, according to some participants, seemed geared to elicit a particular response,” concluded Taylor.
For two questions involving “trade-offs” between forfeiting tenure for other salary and contract terms, Professor Howell failed to allow participants to respond that they would not forfeit tenure for any amount of compensation or contract term.
Due to the outcry surrounding the survey, prior press accounts indicated that Howell had to shut down the survey within a few days.
In the past, UW-Madison withdrew its name from a previous WPRI study on school vouchers because the integrity of the polls was compromised.
“I suspect that these bogus survey results will now be used by my Republican colleagues to further erode tenure protections and the quality and caliber of the UW system. We should be building up our UW system, not commissioning bogus research to tear it down,” concluded Taylor.