The explosive conclusions of The Bell Curve are now common knowledge. What is less well known is that the country's leading conservative foundation paid co-author Charles Murray $1 million to write the book. Foundation funding of research is nothing new. But Murray's support from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is an example of the highly ideological research that conservative foundations favor as they seek to mold public policy. Even in the marketplace of ideas, it takes money to compete.They've used this to argue for school privatization and education cuts for decades.
The Bell Curve's key educational policy recommendation dovetails with the Bradley Foundation's top education priority: support for school choice, including public funds for private and religious schools. This bolsters the case of those who argue that despite the rhetoric of choice, many voucher advocates have abandoned the vision of a quality education for all children. Says Robert Lowe, associate professor at National Louis University and an editor of the journal Rethinking Schools:
The Bell Curve is a smoking gun. It maintains that the poor—including the majority of African Americans—are generally incapable of benefiting from education....
C.J. Prentiss, an Ohio legislator (Independent/Democrat) who has been active in the African-American community opposing vouchers, also notes that voucher advocates have tried to win converts by arguing that vouchers would improve educational opportunities for the poor:
You have to be suspicious of someone who argues that on the one hand, African Americans are dumber than whites, and then, on the other, comes into the Black community and says, `We are going to make you as bright as you can be, here are some vouchers.... I believe vouchers are simply a way to dismantle public schools and use tax dollars to fund an elitist private school system. But voucher advocates know it would be suicide to say that openly.
This weekend, the Bradley Foundation announced that they just gifted $250,000 to Murray for work that is "consistent with our mission":
The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation helped propel the career of conservative scholar Charles Murray, who famously argued in a 1994 book that genetic differences between white and black people were a partial cause for differences in IQ.I bet that a quarter million dollars would buy a lot of white robes.
Now Murray, 73, is getting another prize from the Bradley Foundation — a $250,000 check.
Michael Grebe, president and CEO of the Bradley Foundation, said the $850 million nonprofit group honored Murray with the money to "recognize distinguished conservatives that we feel have made outstanding achievements that are consistent with our mission."
The foundation gives Bradley Prizes — the conservative equivalent of genius grants — to up to four individuals annually. Recipients of the awards can spend the $250,000 as they want.