Conflict of Interest

'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.' Upton Sinclair
Professor Ewald Terhardt (2011)
'A part of the criticism on Hattie condemns his close links to the New Zealand Government and is suspicious of his own economic interests in the spread of his assessment and training programme (asTTle). Similarly, he is accused of advertising elements of performance-related pay of teachers and he is being criticised for the use of asTTle as the administrative tool for scaling teacher performance. His neglect of social backgrounds, inequality, racism, etc., and issues of school structure is also held against him.' (p434).
Hattie is once again promoting e-AsTTle in his collaboration with Pearson (p13) - What Works In Education.

In the TV series Revolution School, he also promoted e-AsTTle and his Visible Classroom app for which he receives royalties (O'Neill et al, 2016).

Hattie does not divulge his financial interest in either of these programs.

Professor John O'Neill wrote a timely warning, in 2012, about Hattie's influence on Education policy and his financial interest in the solutions proposed:
The 'discourse seeks to portray the public sector as ‘ineffective, unresponsive, sloppy, risk-averse and innovation-resistant’ yet at the same time it promotes celebration of public sector 'heroes' of reform and new kinds of public sector 'excellence'. Relatedly, Mintrom (2000) has written persuasively in the American context, of the way in which ‘policy entrepreneurs’ position themselves politically to champion, shape and benefit from school reform discourses' (p2).
O'Neill, Duffy & Sarojinie (2016) published some of Hattie's earnings from the company Cognition (p49):



O'Neill et al (2016) detail that Hattie became a director of Cognition Education in 2008 (p48) and notes that the above fees are ADDITIONAL to Hattie's director fees for Cognition and also Hattie's book sales.

In his interview with Knudsen (2017) Hattie states,
"I have 23 different licensees around the world. It’s all done through Cognition in Auckland. We develop the concepts together" (p3).
Then again on p8,
"No, I am not a businessman. If I was in this for the money, I probably could have made millions of dollars."
Corwin purchased the rights of Visible Learningplus from Cognition in 2018 - The Press Release here.

Corwin stated, 
"John Hattie chose to work with Corwin since he believed Corwin would be able to expand the reach of the Visible Learningplus work."
Yet, in the article On Being a 'Critic and Conscience of Society': The Role of the Education Academic in Public Debates, Hattie defends the claim by many academics,
"that somehow I am making money out of the ventures (except for book royalties, this is incorrect)" (p94).
Hattie also stated in a 2018 interview with Ollie Lovell (here @74min) that if anyone buys Visible Learning they buy from Corwin not him! He also stated there are all sorts of contracts in place to make sure of this. 

Huh?? Say that again prof! So, Corwin makes money out of your product but you don't???

However, Hattie does give more detail about his contracts, in his interview with Knudsen (2017),
"there are two things you worry about: One is quality control, and the other is to make sure that if your licensee does not deliver on quality control, you have to have very tight legal contracts so they can be fired overnight" (p3).
Hattie with his wife in collaboration with Melbourne University have developed a Visible Classroom App. This app was displayed on the Australian TV documentary Revolution School. The Melbourne Univerity Website shows (here) a royalty sharing arrangement with Hattie.

Hattie consistently implies that he is not making money from Visible Learning or its derivatives, although O'Neill's investigation directly contradicts this.

In the Lovell interview, Hattie also boasts the original Visible Learning book has sold more than 500,000 copies.

So taking all these streams of income into account, it looks like Hattie is the successful businessman making many millions of dollars.

Poulsen (2014) is similarly suspicious of Hattie's economic interests,
".... Hattie has become so sure in his conclusions that he has organized one (worldwide?) course and consulting company that will spread the knowledge research results and train teachers to teach more effectively... Here he joins a well known American tradition for promptly converting new knowledge into new business.

But there is and will be a difference in an open research concept and a profit-oriented course and consultant project, the last definition must work every time while research constantly strives to falsify its own former truths" (p5, translated from Danish).
As is Sjøberg (2012) and Rømer (2016),
"... Hattie wants to build an educational position and practice; a project that is enhanced by the fact that Hattie and his consultants are very active in developing and selling educational concepts, for example,Visible Learning plus" (p1).
McKnight & Whitburn (2018) in Seven reasons to question the hegemony of Visible Learning continue the debate on conflict of interest,
'The Visible Learning cult is not about teachers and students, but the Visible Learning brand. It is not dialogic, it brooks no argument and is sedimented and corralled by its trademarks and proprietary symbols. As we comply, we wonder if we should; assent and unease intertwined are the defining reactions to neoliberalism’s imperatives. Educators need to be alert to affect here, and to what it may mean... 
Teacher professionalism requires “working with colleagues in collaborative cultures of help and support as a way of using shared expertise to solve the on-going problems of professional practice, rather than engaging in joint work as a motivational device to implement the external mandates of others” (Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996, p. 20). Visible Learning demands the latter, and not coincidentally, also requires the consumption of the artefacts, including the professional development sessions, the books, the websites, and the videos. These almanacs, with their tips for teachers, offer quick fix solutions without addressing the crises of education in an increasingly complex world (Slee, 2011). In the case of the Visible Learning brand, certain teachers become licenced as fans, for example in Hattie’s collected case studies of impact (2016). 
Hattie has effected the shift from intrinsic accountability to extrinsic accountability, negating teachers’ awareness that “professional knowledge is provisional, unfinalizable, culturally produced and historically situated” (Locke, 2015, p. 82). It cannot meaningfully be reduced to a list of strategies' (p12-13).
McKnight & Whitburn (2018) are also concerned about Hattie's portrayal in the TV series Revolution School as,
'the potential saviour of public education and redeemer of recalcitrant teachers' (p2-3).
They also question the financial conflict of interest of Visible Learning,
'Where are the flows of capital around Visible Learning? Where is capital and what kinds of capital are accruing for those producing “Visible Learning” as a brand? What material and financial benefits flow on to teachers and students?' (p6).
Professor Scott Eacott (2018), discusses Hattie's "complicity" in the expanding commercial arrangements he has acquired even though Hattie has denied the magnitude of such arrangements (p4).

Eacott then questions the "substantial commercial arrangements" Hattie has with Corwin and ACEL (p5).

Professor Gene Glass with 20 other distinguished academics also concurs with John O'Neill in, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America's Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education.
'The mythical failure of public education has been created and perpetuated in large part by political and economic interests that stand to gain from the destruction of the traditional system. There is an intentional misrepresentation of facts through a rapidly expanding variety of organizations and media that reach deep into the psyche of the nation's citizenry. These myths must be debunked. Our method of debunking these myths and lies is to argue against their logic, or to criticize the data supporting the myth, or to present more credible contradictory data' (p4).
Professor Pierre-Jérôme Bergeron in his voicEd interview also talks about Hattie's conflict of interest and Hattie's reluctance to address the details of his critics. Listen here - at 17min 46sec.

Hattie quotes Cohen (1985) 
'New and revolutionary ideas in teaching will tend to be resisted rather than welcomed with open arms, because every successful teacher has a vested intellectual, social, and even financial interest in maintaining the status quo' (p252).
Given Hattie's commercial arrangements with Cognition, Corwin and Pearson; who paid Hattie for the intellectual rights to Visual Laboratories and Hattie's financial interest in the solutions provided to schools. This is a remarkable double standard! 

It is disappointing that Hattie once again criticises the easy target - the teacher.

Dr Jonathan Becker, similarly critics Marzano, for his lack of independence, due to his financial arrangement with Promethean in his research.

Nick Rose goes into more detail regarding financial conflicts of interest and research.

Joshua Katz's YouTube presentation went viral regarding financial conflict of interest in Education.

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