Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Book Review: A Practical Guide to Digital Research, by Mercedes Schneider

When I started this blog in earnest in 2013, one of the first names I learned was Mercedes Schneider and one of the blogs I read regularly was her duetsch29. Mercedes blog posts were so wonderful because she always, it seemed, delivered the goods. Whenever you thought some education reformster was up to no good, Mercedes found a way to dig up the information that proved what they were up to. She is intrepid, relentless, brilliant, and ruthless. Her work has been absolutely invaluable to anyone trying to shine a light on the backdoor dealings, profit-driven schemings, and devious proceedings of the proponents of educational reform. Now, Mercedes has written a book that shows us all how she does it.

In A Practical Guide to Digital Research (Garn Press) Schneider provides a clear road map for the digital researcher to follow. Need to find out what your local Broad trained superintendent is up to? Scheneider guides you in how to investigate the individual and get the goods, even when that individual has worked hard to conceal that they only have two years of actual teaching in Possawatamy Charter School in their educational background. Want to find out who is funding the reformster school board member who is running in your local election? Schneider shows you how. Want to investigate the wealthy donors behind some reformster organization? Step right up and follow Schneider's step-by-step plan.

The book is enriched by the stories of real life research successes that Schneider has had over the years and that have kept those of us who have had the fortune to read her regularly informed and entertained. Those stories include her great work in exposing the failures of reform in New Orleans, to finding out who is funding Eva Moskowitz in New York, to how Teach for America gained an outsized foothold in Chicago. These stories lend credence to her recommended method and give the reader confidence the methods will work.

This book is clearly written and easy to follow. Novice bloggers  and veteran researchers alike will find it invaluable as they continue to search for information which can illuminate our understanding of how the inner workings of reform are often working against the best interests of children, teachers, public education, and our country. Mercedes Schneider has, once again, performed an invaluable service for all of those interested in developing a vibrant and vital system of public education.

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