Category Archives: See Spot. See Spot Run.

By Their Fruits

Cheers to America’s right wing,

So let’s see how they’ve done it. For starters, they have intensely studied successful right-wing groups that have succeeded in the past. They have realized that these parties have always made use of the same three tricks: First, take a real danger and blow it out of proportion. Second, conflate it with some other, imaginary dangers, so it looks even greater. And third, act in a way that reinforces the imaginary danger by doing everything possible to invite criticism from abroad.

Oooppps, wrong country, same result.

College Washout

Update: I should have probably tied these two together.

Nothing like going from an average high school to a freshman college English class with 250 students in an auditorium. Yeah, I’m glad I made the move, now where’s the door?

— Dropping out of college after a year can mean lost time, burdensome debt and an uncertain future for students.

Now there’s an estimate of what it costs taxpayers. And it runs in the billions.

States appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two, a report released Monday says.

Whoa! That’s a lot of Geetis. This comes from the American Institutes of Research, which sounds suspicious to me, but YMMV.

So what is going on in edumacation, you may ask.

If one looks at the aggregate statistics of American education from this perspective, the full dimensions of this other crisis become strikingly apparent. Consider the recent history of the Stanford Achievement Test, which has long served as one of the main instruments for measuring pupil progress in our schools. According to Herbert Rudman, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University and a co-author of the test for more than three decades, from the 1920s to the late 1960s American children taking the Stanford made significant gains in their test performance. They made so much progress, in fact, that as the test was revised each decade, the level of difficulty of the questions was increased substantially, reflecting the increasing level of challenge of the instructional materials being used in the schools.

“Wha, Wha What happened?!!” You may ask,

From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, however, we managed to squander the better part of that progress, with the greatest losses coming in the high schools. During the past few years the Stanford and other test results have shown some improvement in math and science, and in language skills at the elementary school level. But there has been little or no movement in the verbal areas among junior high and high school students, and seasoned test interpreters have also seen a tendency for the gains made in the early years of school to wash out as the child becomes older. In effect, the test numbers substantiate what the National Commission on Excellence in Education concluded — quoting the education analyst Paul Copperman — in 1983 in A Nation at Risk: “Each generation of Americans has outstripped its parents in education, in literacy, and in economic attainment. For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach, those of their parents.”

But, but, but, you may say,

The report identifies one main characteristic that successful schools have shared—the belief that academics must invariably receive priority over every other activity. “The difference comes,” we are told, “from a singular commitment to academic achievement for the college-bound student.” These schools did not ignore the other dimensions of student life. By and large, the NASSP found, schools that maintained excellence in academics sought to be excellent in everything else they did, they “proved to be apt jugglers, keeping all important balls in the air.” But academic work came first.

Jeebus, we may need to read the whole thing, if we posses the reading skills to do so.