What's wrong with the current market for educational research?
1) The winner take all phenomenon: Whether it's the market for music, books, or anything else, attention flows to people based on their relative position (think Harry Potter, Norah Jones, or the difference between being on versus off the NYT Book Review Bestsellers list). Attention breeds more attention, and it snowballs. This is also true in educational research. We know a lot about a small number of researchers. There's a lot more out there, though.
2) The Beltway problem: To be fair about Beltway bashing - all "policy reports" aren't coming from inside the Beltway, and undoubtedly there are some useful and rigorous reports being produced. But a lot of them would never see the light of day if they were peer-reviewed. For journalists and lay consumers of educational research, it's often difficult to tell the difference between "good" and "bad" research. (Disclaimer: this is not to say that I'm the authority on research quality. I'm not. But I do have some opinions. You should weigh in, too.)
3) The mystification tendency: There's too great a divide between researchers and teachers. Researchers don't (or don't know how to) translate their work for broader audiences. Yet new policies are justified to educators in terms of "the research," without ever telling teachers where or to whom they might look if they wanted to learn more about "the research."
"Cool people you should know" is my humble attempt to address these problems. From time to time, I'll profile a researcher you may not know about, but should. I'll list some of their coolest findings, with the hope that the good work these folks are doing finds its way into popular parlance.
Cool people to date:
1) Charlie Clotfelter
2) Tom Corcoran
3) Doug Lauen
4) Linda Renzulli
5) Jesse Rothstein
6) Claudia Buchmann and Claudia Goldin
7) Randy Reback
8) Jennifer Russell
9) Karolyn Tyson