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The Revolution Will Not Be Evaluated

An ode to Gil Scot-Heron, Michael Scriven, and the future of evaluation1

By: Rodney Hopson

Professor & Associate Dean for Research
College of Education and Human Development
George Mason University1

"You will not be able to avoid the usefulness and ubiquity of evaluation,
You will not be able to mislabel, misappropriate, misconceive, misapply, or misuse
evaluation, limiting it to the settings of programs, policies, and personnel
You will not be able to refer to the usual distinctions between research and
evaluation, draw simple conclusions at the end of a program evaluation, or avoid
instances of bias and conflicts of interests, as if our only concern in the discipline
rests on value judgments or our only claim to fame is to inform decision-making
Because the revolution will not be evaluated.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Beltway Bandits co-opted and
aligned through financial loyalties and veiled allegiances of quid pro quo,
The revolution will not continue to pay honor and homage to the roots of the field in
recognition of the Ralph Tylers and other forefathers without attention to the
foremothers or even specifically to those African American evaluators who either
studied with them but nobody cared or knew their name.
The revolution will not be evaluated.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the American Evaluation Association or
Sage and will not star Marcia Guttentag, Paul Lazarsfeld, Alva and Gunner Myrdal, or
Robert Ingle award winners.
The revolution will not give you continuing education credits at professional
development workshops,
The revolution will not decide the qualitative-quantitative debate,
The revolution will not get you published, promoted, tenure, or funded;
The revolution will not use evidence-based, performance-measured, scientifically-                                        legitimate arguments assumptions, and logics,
Because the revolution will not be evaluated.

There will be no pretty little pictures of logic models, theories of action, theories of
change, or whatever you want to call or confuse these graphic conceptual models –
used and abused without careful and critical thinking about their use at various
stages and development in serious, systematic evaluations;
Funders and clients will not require that we focus only on goals and objectives – in
fact, we will do our damnest to stay away from them and those who run these
programs since their story is not likely the one that has most merit.
The revolution will not be evaluated.

There will be no references to the Arab Spring, looters in the UK, nor in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina;
There will be no democracy or equality without evaluation and no evaluation
without attention to democracy or equality;
There will be no high stakes evaluations who continue to show how traditionally
poor, underserved, and minoritized communities and students do in schools or on
tests that are not meant for them or do not have their best interests without
metaevaluations (done by evaluees!) or using judicial/adversarial models without a
real attention to the consequences of evaluation bias.
There will be no “racialist or paternalistic traditions of social scientific work
reproducing dominance and subordination in the academy and in the worlds we
study and evaluate2” as if we are clueless and unfettered by the Murdochs, debt
ceilings, and wasteful military industrial and prison complex spending and
shenanigans in religion of national security and war on terrorism.
NRC, STEM, and MRDC will no longer be relevant and standards, principles, criteria,
and checklists will no longer be restrictive and fundamentalist unless they lead to
creative, meaningful evaluation practice which generates new knowledges,
epistemologies, and methodologies.
The revolution will not be evaluated.

There will be no academic programs in the social or natural sciences, law,
humanities without evaluation – interdisciplinarily or intradisciplinarily;
There will be no static or finite presentations, textbooks, or articles about evaluation
models, and approaches written by the usual suspects at this symposium
The revolution will not be evaluated.
The revolution will not be defined only by mandates 40 years ago from Great Society
You will not have to worry about whether what we do is scientific, whether it
informs accountability or whether it is useful, feasible, proper, or accurate;
The revolution will not go better with desired outputs or outcomes;
The revolution will be on Facebook, Twitter, and accessible on your IPhones and IPads;
The revolution will be live."

1Presented at the Claremont Graduate University Stauffer Symposium in honor of Michael Scriven,
20 August, 2011

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