William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”
The answer, according to Education Matters Inc., a national, nonprofit research group based in Cambridge, Mass., is “plenty.”
In a complaint filed last month in a federal court in Boston, the 17-year-old group demanded that the publishers of a new education journal stop using its name. The journal, Education Matters, put out its first issue in February. (“In Short,” Feb. 28, 2001.)
The quarterly publication’s principal editors are Paul E. Peterson, a Harvard University government professor known for his work on school choice, and Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a Washington think tank. The Hoover Institution, based at Stanford University, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a New York City-based research group, also support the journal.
Although the publication’s editors have pledged to steer a neutral course, most of its benefactors are considered to be politically conservative.
The problem, said Barbara Neufeld, the founder and president of the research organization Education Matters, is that clients and others in the field might confuse the two groups. Both have offices within a few streets of each other in Cambridge.
“People know our work and think of it highly because it is not, by and large, colored by any political or ideological vision,” Ms. Neufeld said.
“If the journal and our organization are confused, then the value of our work will be diminished,” she contended.
Ms. Neufeld’s group says it has counted four instances so far in which educators have mistaken her own organization for the journal or vice versa. “Ultimately, this will lead us to have a loss in business,” she said.
If the publication’s editors are considering bowing to Ms. Neufeld’s demand, they aren’t saying.
“There are discussions taking place between the parties, and at this time we aren’t prepared to make a comment,” Mr. Peterson said in an interview last week.
Coverage of research is underwritten in part by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2001 edition of Education Week as In Short