"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spellings to the Rescue--of Higher Ed?

With NCLB under a withering barrage of criticism from every hamlet and city in America, and with formal complaints or lawsuits underway in 47 states against NCLB, and with two-thirds of Americans disagreeing with NCLB's use of a single measure to make high-stakes decisions, and with 61% of informed poll respondents opposing NCLB (see story here), it is not surprising that Queen Mag would want to change the subject.

Out of the blue, or out of the storm clouds following Katrina, here comes Mom-Secretary to announce that, since the effort to bring NCLB to the high schools fell flat earlier this year, that now Bush Co. wants to know what is going on in the University. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, most everyone was surprised by this bold stroke of educational meddling:

College groups had relatively little to say about the national commission, mostly because they knew virtually nothing about it. (Ward told a group of officials from other higher education associations Monday morning that he could offer little insight on its goals.) Members of the panel apparently were approached in late August and have received only a brief form letter outlining its mission in the broadest terms.
Remaining consistent with other blue-ribbon panels sent out to study education issues, the illustrious body is heavy on corporate bosses and short on educators, with only two real professors among the 19 members, and one of them is economist and chief among ideologues for the American Enterprise Institute, Richard Vedder.

Chairing the Commission is retired investment specialist, Charles Miller, who just wound up his tenure as a Bush appointment on the Board of Regents for UT (that one in Texas). Mr. Miller indicated that he can stay on message when he assured the Inside Higher Ed reporter that “Accountability and deregulation go together.” Mr. Miller has a bachelor's degree in Math (UT '59) and would appear imminently qualified to do whatever he is told by the Business Roundtable and the educational antiquarians such as Bennett, Finn, and the Great Carnine who inspired this intrusion and diversion in the first place. When the heat gets too great, set fire to another kitchen.

"Advocates for minority and other underrepresented students" include Kati Haycock's Education Trust, espousing a 1950s liberal agenda based on a keep-on-the-sunny-side phony meritocratic technocracy. The other "advocate" is the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a private venture chaired by Dr. Robert Benjamin, who is President of Council for Aid to Education, which has as prominent Board members Benno Schmidt, Jr. of the corporate welfare outfit, Edison Schools--and, wouldn't you know it, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. as Special Advisor. And these are the advocates for the poor. I suppose we might add Commission Member Jonathan Grayer, CEO and Chairman, Kaplan, Inc. as an advocate for the poor and downtrodden--after all, his company is doing its humanitarian duty in the test-failed urban schools where billions in tax dollars are shoveled out for private tutoring firms like Kaplan, who, by the way, are accountable to no one except their lobbyists. Being accountable to no one would seem to automatically qualify for inclusion on a national Commission headed by Spellings and the band of dark visionaries circulating in the White House, who would like nothing more than to morph this republic, now under seige, into the 21st Century version of corporate socialism.

1 comment:

  1. I take it you don't approve of the Secretary's higher education commission. What suggestion do you have for the Secretary about higher education and the changing global house of intellect (as I borrowed the term from Jacques Barzun)?