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

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spellings and the Texas-Sized Corruption She Inspires

With Fredo's Justice Department in bunker mode and Maggie's ED unwilling to put pressure on the loan-leech corporations that own the Administration and major players in the House and Senate, the NY Times reports today that state attorneys general have taken the lead in student loan corruption investigation:
The state-by-state regulatory action, so far limited largely to efforts by Democrats, comes at a time of little progress in the development of federal rules on lenders’ dealings with colleges. A bid by the Education Department to negotiate such rules collapsed on Friday in disagreement among representatives of colleges, banks and other groups.
One sad part of this story so far is that these crooked corporations are not being taken to court and convicted of their crimes, but, rather, they are allowed to pay out measly settlements that have been worked into their business plans, anyway, and for which they doubtless find ways to deduct from their tax obligations.

In other Spellings news, Ed Week is reporting that a federal audit released in March shows that ED, in a debt of gratitude for poor performance, doubled the amount in an ED technology contract to $45,800,000 for the multinational Computer Services Corporation (#163 on the Fortune 500), while lowering the standards of future performance so that CSC would be more likely to keep their contract.

Now there's real Bushie accountability, even if only slightly tinged with the bigotry of low expectations:

The Department of Education received an “unacceptable” level of service under a $20.6 million technology contract, but instead of penalizing the underperforming vendor, department officials extended the contract by a year and eased its performance requirements, according to a federal audit released last week.

Computer Sciences Corp., an information-technology company based in El Segundo, Calif., holds the contract to run the Education Department’s information system, called the Education Network, or EDNet. The company maintains computer servers and provides messaging services, including BlackBerry service, as well as support for hardware and software under the contract, according to the audit by the department’s inspector general’s office.

The original contract, running from May 2005 to July 2006, set performance targets to measure whether the company helped the department improve delivery of its service commitments to school districts, colleges, and others. The company performed poorly as measured by those targets, according to the April 17 audit.

But last July, the department extended the EDNet contract for a second year, increasing the total contract to $45.8 million.

The Education Department also agreed to changes in the contract that “significantly increased the contractor’s chances of obtaining a higher performance rating without increasing its actual level of effort or performance,” the audit said.

In a March 26 letter appended to the audit, David L. Dunn, the chief of staff to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, said the department concurs with the findings, and that the department had submitted a plan to address the problems, based on the audit’s 19 recommendations.

Computer Sciences Corp. said it was studying the report and had no other comment.

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