In a column paired with Angela Eilers' op/ed piece, St. Paul Pioneer Press editorialist Craig Westover writes: "when think tanks use research the way a drunk uses a
lamppost, for support rather than illumination, the public is ill
served, misinformation becomes widely distributed, policymakers are
misled and bad policy follows."
Westover himself careens around a single research lamppost, apparently without noticing it is only one point in a constellation of lights that can lead policymakers in many directions.
He criticizes how Minnesota 2020 distilled a few bullets from hundreds of pages of findings by researchers contributing to the "Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students" summit — and then proceeds to explain implications "that Growth & Justice and Minnesota 20/20 [sic] miss and policy-makers ought to consider."
In fact, the presentation of research findings earlier this month was only one step in a more than year-long process of engaging economists, educators, citizens and policymakers in evaluating the cost-effectiveness and inter-relationship of interventions that can improve educational attainment. There's still more work to be done — including seeking broad community response — before Growth & Justice makes any recommendations to policymakers.
We do not cherrypick research findings to support a political agenda. Instead, our approach is to identify an issue of strategic importance to the state and examine it comprehensively, taking into account the implications for the economy as a whole as well as for individual Minnesotans. Then we present the complex and sometimes ideology-challenging insights in a series of discussions with community leaders.
The policymakers we know on both sides of the aisle are hardly misled by this process.
Columnists, of course, are free to jump to conclusions.
— Charlie Quimby