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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Spellings Blackmails Higher Ed

Between football games and luncheons in Austin, Texas last weekend, Spellings, who says she doesn't want to be called the "czarina" of higher education in America has no problem being the dictator of higher ed in America.

Speaking out of both sides of their mouths, Spellings and her old crony Miller say the primary purpose of the panel is to make college more affordable, provide greater opportunities for young people and stimulate interest and discussion. A close look at the contradictions in this Oxford Press story out of Toledo, Ohio provides us with the real agenda and preconceived outcomes.

"I think the commission's work obviously was high quality, very much on point," she said. "It did exactly what it was supposed to do, and that is frame the big issues and precipitate discussion and interest. I consider this kind of the beginning of the beginning of all the discussion on higher education. And it's high time and overdue."

Spellings formed the commission a year ago in an effort to improve the affordability, accessibility and consumer friendliness of higher education. She named Charles Miller, a Houston investor and former chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, to lead the panel. A friend of President Bush's, Miller was a mentor to Spellings when she served as Bush's education adviser during his term as governor of Texas.

Miller, who accompanied Spellings in Austin, said he took issue with some leaders of private colleges and universities who have criticized the report, especially a provision calling for a national "unit record" database to track students' progress and thereby hold schools more accountable for fulfilling their educational mission. Critics say such a system would endanger students' privacy.

Miller and Spellings rejected that argument, asserting that names and Social Security numbers would be protected. Miller said private colleges "are afraid of transparency, and yet they take a huge amount of federal money. What do they have to hide? A private college doesn't have any more right to that data than the government does."

As long as colleges and universties provide the necessary data on students to the government, institute standardized testing and toe the line, the federal government is prepared to increase the desperately needed funding.
She said she was prepared to seek a significant increase in the federal government's $80 billion annual outlay for financial aid, provided that colleges and universities become more transparent about their operations.
What is becoming increasingly transparent are the selfish, profit-seeking motives of the Commission on Higher Education interested in turning colleges and universities into test prep factories and putting an end to any critical thinking that might get in the way of a dictatorship.

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