[lit-ideas] Re: Lit-Ideas More good news

  • From: Eternitytime1@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 11:43:21 -0400

In a message dated 5/3/2004 6:50:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
johnwager@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:

> I've actually used the ERIC database for education, and even though I
> would defer to your professional expertise in this area, I must say that
> there's nothing particularly "educational" about its design. It's just a
> big collection of indexed articles; it could be about crops, or illegal
> aliens, and it would still have the same kind of data structures. So it
> doesn't bother me that the database happens to be an educational one; I
> would EXPECT Republicans to award contracts to their friends in high
> places. This is what people vote for when they vote for Republicans.
> I'm sure that the company will not do any worse job than any other
> company who gets contracts based on contacts.  It also doesn't surprise
> me that Bush's friends tend to be armament contractors rather than
> education contractors; last I looked, there is not nearly as much money
> in being an education contractor as being a defense 
> contractor....

Thanks for your thoughts.  

While ERIC does compile various links and articles from a variety of sources, 
there IS screening being done in order to decide which links/articles will be 
included. (Thus the difference between ERIC and the entire world wide web which 
allows for [as we've all discussed before] for one search word to give you 
300,000 possibilities to look at--and they are not rated according to relevancy 
[which ERIC and other databases do try to do...], but according to popularity 
of use. Kind of like the quote which says "I want to know what good is a web 
search engine that returns 324,909,188 'matches' to my key word. That's like 
saying, "Good news, we've located the product you're looking for. It's on 
Earth." ]quote by Bruce

If the screening process is set up so that there is judgment not based on 
certain criteria of relevance to the topic based on the merits of the 
research(er) itself, but to the political point of view which the research 
points to, then you will see only links/articles purporting to be 
representative of all sides of an issue but not doing so in actuality.

The concern on this matter matches that of what is happening in regards to the 
Dept of Ed's website (it follows)
Thanks again for your thoughts!
Marlena in Missouri
(librarian at http://www.mcpl.lib.mo.us )

Censoring the Department of Education Website

The Department of Education has asked employees to censor the Department™s 
web site based on the political priorities of the Bush Administration.
In May 2002, the Department of Education circulated an internal memo entitled 
œCriteria & Process for Removing Old Content from www.ed.gov.[1] The memo 
explains that the www.ed.gov portal, the largest of the Department™s sites, 
lacks common design themes and navigational systems. Furthermore, it states 
that œ[m]uch of the content on these pages is either outdated or runs counter 
to current Administration priorities.[2] The memo instructs employees to 
remove all items dated earlier than February 2001 unless the item:

Is needed for a legal reason;
Supports No Child Left Behind or other Administration priorities and 
Is important for historical perspective (ie: statistical trends, the Nation at 
Risk report);
Is important for policy reasons identified by an Assistant Secretary; or
Is useful or valuable to parents, students, or educators and is consistent with 
the Administration™s philosophy.[3]

The American Educational Research Association and 12 additional national 
educational organizations wrote a letter to Education Secretary Rod Paige 
expressing concern about the suppression of information.[4] 

Executive Director Dr. Felice J. Levine commented, œSound policy depends on 
solid science . . . . We need to ensure that research materials remain 
accessible so that analysts can interrogate them further and compare new 
results with prior data. We need to resist policies or procedures that remove 
such information or make it difficult to find.[5] 

[1] Department of Education, Criteria and Process for Removing Old Content from 
www.ed.gov (May 31, 2002).
[2] Id. (emphasis added). 
[3] Id. (emphasis added).
[4] Letter from American Educational Research Association et al. to Secretary 
of Education Rod Paige (Oct. 25, 2002).
[5] American Educational Research Association, AERA NEWS: Societies Raise 
Concerns About Document Removal from U.S. Department of Education Web Site 
(Nov. 21, 2002) (online at http://www.aera.net/communications/news/021121.htm). 

Which is:

Societies Raise Concerns about
Document Removal from
U.S. Department of Education Web Site

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2002 – The American
Educational Research Association (AERA) and the
American Library Association (ALA), in concert
with 12 other national organizations, have joined
in an effort to retain documents on the U.S.
Department of Education’s Web site. 

In a letter to Education Secretary Rod Paige, the
14 professional organizations have requested that
all U.S. Department of Education materials retain
the level of accessibility now available. 

The groups have expressed concerns about the fate
of information scheduled to be removed from the
publicly accessible Web site. “Because the
Internet has become, by far, the method of choice
for disseminating information and research data
widely and efficiently, we are concerned about
efforts that would diminish access and use of
these records,” they wrote.

In addition, they are equally concerned about
actions that would remove from access research,
data, and other digests of information that
otherwise have been publicly available, regardless
of administration. They advocate that educational
stakeholders be included in the web revamping

The AERA/ALA-initiated effort was triggered this
fall after the library, educational research and
related social science communities learned of an
internal memo, “Criteria and Process for Removing
Old Content from www.ed.gov,” that the Education
Department issued to staff members on May 31,
2002. According to the internal government memo,
the federal initiative strives to remove from
public access information that either is outdated
or “does not reflect the priorities, philosophies,
or goals of the present administration.”

Dr. Felice J. Levine, AERA Executive Director,
emphasizes the importance of access to research
reports and data. “Sound policy depends on solid
science,” she notes. “We need to ensure that
research materials remain accessible so that
analysts can interrogate them further and compare
new results with prior data. We need to resist
policies or procedures that remove such
information or make it difficult to find.”

“The American Library Association supports
Education Secretary Paige’s effort to improve the
functional usability of the Department’s Web site
– by making it more user friendly to the general
public,” says ALA Washington Office Executive
Director Emily Sheketoff. “However, we strongly
believe that education information should be
continuously accessible to educators, researchers,
families, and children – and must remain
permanently available to the public,” she

In their letter, the professional societies state,
“We, as well as the general public, need Internet
access to the research, data, reports, and other
digests and information that may be removed from
the Department’s Web site.”

To read the complete text of the associations’
letter online, go to

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