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

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Spellings as Ultimate Arbiter of HS Curricula

On their way to slashing $11-14 billion in college tuition assistance from the latest federal budget bill, the neo-cons tucked away an unseen item in the 744-page document that was intended to bypass their rejected efforts from last spring to expand the testing madness into the high schools by “eliminating a total of 48 programs from the Department of Education, including vocational education, GEAR-UP, TRIO and teacher quality enhancement grants . . .”

Reported today by Sam Dillon in the NY Times is the story on the neo-con efforts to offer tuition assistance grants to students graduating from high schools that Margaret Spellings has judged rigorous enough to merit the $750 being offered to college freshmen in exchange for a whole new level of federal meddling in the high schools:
It leaves it to the secretary of education to define rigorous, giving her a new foothold in matters of high school curriculums.
In the second year of college, the tuition assistance would be $1, 300. If recipients then decided to major in math, science, or engineering (remember to need to rise above the gathering storm and create an oversupply of engineers?), then assistance would then be bumped to $4,000.

Wonder how Maggie would determine if high schools have rigorous curricula? Could it be, maybe, I don’t know, you tell me.

By the way, would you want to guess which college majors are the most literate in all three areas (prose analysis, document analysis, and quantitative analysis)—according to the AIR study whose presentation has all the truthiness quality of the Colbert Report, minus the humor? Well, of course, the most literate are somehow lumped together as science, math, and engineering majors. Could there be some shortcomings in the way that literacy is being defined? Or do we follow the manipulated implication and conclude that the highest manifestations of literacy are to be found in engineers?

The AP story
that AIR researchers and White House hacks have managed to pump out through the AP's Bob Feller three days ago is a great example of what Frank Rich noted today:
It's the power of the story that always counts first, and the selling of it that comes second. Accuracy is optional.

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