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Merrow and Gates Money? Et tu, John?

September 12, 2013

John Merrow has decided not to report on Michelle Rhee. He helped promote her, and now he has decided to call it quits. Education historian Diane Ravitch says not so fast, John; you owe us some follow-through in unveiling Rhee.  I agree. Merrow owes American education his service in unmasking the monster he helped to create.

I have wondered why Merrow also insists upon promoting New Orleans as a model of reform. He has a film coming out on the subject. The reforms in New Orleans are a fixed game; I have communicated with Merrow by email, sending him my work. I have written numerous posts demonstrating the Recovery School District (RSD) farce.

Why won’t Merrow budge?

Perhaps his Gates funding is the issue.

Here are the four Gates grants Merrow’s Learning Matters has accepted, as recorded on the Gates grants website:

Date: July 2004
Purpose: to support a documentary production, “Degrees of Excellence, Degrees of Mediocrity,” addressing the linkages between high school and college success
Amount: $200,000  

Date: November 2007
Purpose: to support production of reports on Washington DC and New Orleans school districts for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
Amount: $308,000  

Date: July 2009
Purpose: to support reporting on national education issues and the development of video and digital content for broadcast and online distribution
Amount: $525,048

Date: November 2012
Purpose: to fund the completion of a film about the revitalization and recovery of New Orleans, including the public education system, after Hurricane Katrina
Amount: $20,000  [Purpose emphasis added.]

There you have it: Merrow has accepted Gates money related to both DC and New Orleans, and his opinions are arguably not his own.

Gates only funds what it believes in, and it solicits what it funds:

Q. How do I apply for a grant from the foundation?
A. We do not make grants outside our funding priorities. In general, we directly invite proposals by directly contacting organizations. We do occasionally award grants through published RFPs or letters of inquiry. View a list of current RFP and LOI opportunities[Underlining added.]

Q. My funding request does not fall under any of your programs. How do I submit it?
We do not make grants outside our funding priorities.

Looming question:  Did Gates contact Merrow for his participation in examining Rhee (DC) and New Orleans for a Gates-approved outcome?

I invite Merrow to respond.

  1. George Buzzetti permalink

    The Truth Shall Set You Free.

  2. ira shor permalink

    Yes, Merrow is giving up too easily, suspiciously easily, so your info on his many Gates grants is very impt, thank you. Pls continue your own questions to Merrow. You are our Sherlock Holmes.

  3. Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
    Seriously, is there anyone who supports reform that gates or one of his allies hasn’t bought off?

  4. Who do you serve ???

  5. As much as I would like to see John Merrow complete his work with reporting on Michelle Rhee, the timing here is off.

    Merrow’s most damning piece about Rhee was put out on his blog in July, 2013, well after any of these grant awards.

    If he was being influenced by Gates money, the influence is coming a bit late. I suspect that the truth here is what Merrow describes in his blog: there are other things he wants to work on, and his reporting on Rhee was becoming personally and professionally tiresome.

    But with that said, the people pressuring Merrow to back of Rhee are giving him some bad advice.

    • Merrow accepted one million from Gates related to reporting on both DC and New Orleans.

      He is dropping Rhee (DC follow-through) and ignoring New Orleans.

      Merrow needs to follow through.

  6. Corporate Definition of a Good Journalist —

    One Who Stays Bought.

  7. carolinesf permalink

    I have no doubt that forces from the “reform” sector have threatened Mr. Merrow in some way that could do him (or someone close to him) serious material damage. Since presumably none of us knows what that might be, it’s not really feasible to urge him to ignore the threats, in my opinion.

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