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

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WaPo and NY Times Hammer Spellings

Before Margaret Lamontagne Spellings had her executive makeover, she operated out a secretive office in the West Wing, almost an invisible yet ever-present force in helping Sandy Kress and Reid Lyon and the other "Mayberry Machievellis" shape the punishing and abusive testocracy that would come to dominate a federal education policy grounded in corruption and cronyism.

She was there when the Oregon Mafia was put in charge of force-feeding to the nation a 19th Century reading program called Reading First that would line the pockets of insiders, and she was there when the bloodsuckers of the private student loan business lined up for their cuts of the billions in guaranteed federal dollars. And she was there when the impossible-to-achieve test targets of NCLB were devised to make sure that the majority of public schools fail, just as she was there when the voucher, charter, and corporate tutoring schemes were operationalized.

It is time to fire this bunch of thugs and thuggettes and to start over. It just took the national media 7 years to figure that out. Better late than never, as they say.

A clip from the Times editorial yesterday:
The United States Department of Education has been rightfully drawn (but not yet quartered) in Congress for failing to prevent the kickbacks, payoffs and self-dealing recently uncovered in the student loan business. Now it turns out that the department also mismanaged the federal Reading First initiative, the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to improve reading instruction in exchange for federal education dollars. . . .
And from the Post today:

. . . . Ms. Spellings and the Education Department, however, could have better investigated and publicized the manner and scale of the collusion that some lenders were engaged in. And why wasn't there a greater sense of urgency when she was an adviser at the White House drafting education policy? Ms. Spellings is right, though, that the system needs a lot of work beyond tightening ethics rules. Student loans have long needed a fundamental reexamination -- and that means doing more than just streamlining "byzantine" procedure.

Why, for example, should taxpayers continue to fund hefty subsidies to private loan companies when the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget have both concluded that the federal government's direct loan program can do the same job at a smaller cost to the federal treasury? Recent misbehavior only bolsters the arguments for lowering or eliminating the subsidies that prop up a public-private arrangement seemingly engineered to waste money.

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