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

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spellings: Keep Your Dirty Nose Out of Higher Ed

With ED reeling from the OIG report that outlines a criminal conspiracy to defraud the people's government and to turn America's public schools into joyless work camps, it seems hardly the time to come trumpeting a new opportunity for thievery and corruption by federal officials and insider cronies. Schedules are set, however, and some people's minds just cant't be changed that easily.

Spellings' lap dog, Ben Feller, has the party line story on Maggie's lunch date yesterday at the National Press Club to announce the corporate socialist game plan. Feller begins this way:

WASHINGTON — Handed a plan to shake up college life in America, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is endorsing some of its key ideas and promising to get moving on them.

Her overarching theme is to make everything about college _ choosing one, affording one, succeeding in one _ easier for families. Parents should be able to shop for a college as simply as they shop for a car, she said, with a clear expectation of what they will get.

Ah yes, the market model--how could we forget. What Feller pretends first off is that Spellings is the passive recipient here, the "get-moving" functionary who will make the college choice process simple as a window sticker and Mom-friendly. What this facade hides is the fact that Spellings was instrumental in crafting the desired results that Charles Miller was assigned to piece together into a report, which he did. Much the same way that she and Lyon and Carnine were at Sandy Kress's elbow during the entire time that NCLB was being stitched together, with its now infamous and newsworthy floodgate for federal cash, Reading First.

What Feller's press release, er, news story, doesn't say, is that the Spellings Commission Report is an underhanded device to direct the curriculums and research agendas of America's colleges and universities into the hands of corporate interests. The fact that the Spellings plans to use federal dollars for the takeover should not surprise anyone who is familiar with NCLB. Just one example of how: put public pressure (with the help of Ben Feller) on public universities to hold down tuition increases to the rate of inflation, thus making them even more dependent upon the largesse of an ED that has unlimited incentive funds waiting for those institutions that will to do follow ED's priority list. And ED's priorities? Ask any corporate lobbyist in Washington--they all have their lists.

At this point in the history of the Bush Administration, turning over control of the American university system to Margaret Spellings would be equivalent to putting Donald Rumsfeld in charge of a NASA Mars venture. All the contractors would get fat, but a lot of people would get blown up.

With more reports of investigation into Spellings' Reading First to be issued by the Office of Inspector General before the end of the year, I think that the folks on 7 will have plenty to do before they get down to the serious business of destroying another American public institution.

JH

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