Did education professor agree to manipulate data?

Did James O’Keefe catch Rutgers University education professor Bruce Baker agreeing to accept payment for a study with a predetermined, pro-union conclusion?  That is the big question after O’Keefe released a video of Baker saying that he would “play with the data first to see if it would undermine [the proposed study].”

I do not buy Baker’s claim that he found his phone and email exchanges with O’Keefe to be “disturbing,” “strange,” “twisted,” and the like.  Additionally, I am skeptical about Professor Baker contention that he was “playing along” and suspected “that this whole thing was a sham.”  If he was aware that the whole thing was a set up, why didn’t Baker confront O’Keefe?

Baker also argues that it is common for researchers to “vet the data.”  I suspect that this is true, but “vetting” data is not the same as “playing” with it.  It may have been a case of poor word choice, an argument that I would have been willing to entertain.  Indeed, word choice would have been a much better defense than his chosen strategy – conflating the two concepts.  Obviously the latter suggests manipulation, whereas the former suggests evaluation.

Update: RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation has a must-read piece on Bruce Baker.

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