Thursday, February 17, 2005

"In God we trust. All others, bring data."

It starts. Our new Secretary of Education begins the public flogging of the best higher education framework on the globe. This is a nice case of the reich hand doing the spaking while not knowing what the left hand is stroking.

Slice from Article One:

If community-college officials want to help students who would be hit by proposed cuts in federal job-training and adult-education programs, they should come up with data that prove the programs' value, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the National Legislative Seminar, a conference that has brought some 1,200 presidents and trustees of two-year colleges to the nation's capital this week, Ms. Spellings said the onus is on education leaders to "prove up the value of these programs.

..."We believe that the single best thing we can do for you is to provide students ready to learn from Day 1," she said, arguing that increasing federal support at the high-school level would lessen the need for expensive remedial programs at community colleges. She cited a recent report that found that 63 percent of students who enter community colleges need some remedial training.

In a brief question-and answer period following her remarks, college officials dug into that philosophy.

Vincent R. Williams, a lobbyist for the City Colleges of Chicago, explained that his institution uses a lot of those federal funds to educate older students who are attending college after years of employment -- or unemployment. "What about the 30-year-old who was already underserved by the K-12 system?" he asked the secretary. "Under this plan that the president is proposing, those students are left in the gap."

In response, Ms. Spellings returned to her original point, calling for community colleges to be more systematic in how they collect and share information. "In God we trust," she said. "All others, bring data."

End slice one:

One of the things that community colleges are best at is bringing people with inadequate educational backgrounds up to speed to the degree that they can perform and succeed at the collegiate level. So, I don't look at the 63% number as something to be sad about.

I thought Secretary Spellings was an "educational leader?" Is she or is she not? In that respect, I think she would rather just sit in judgement and get paid by our tax bucks for doing nothing but foisting theocratic rhetoric on us. By the way, what happened to the separation of church and state?

While the riech hand spanks us, the left hand strokes us:

Slice from article two:

Community colleges would receive $250-million in new federal job-training grants under a bill that the education committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to approve today.

The Job Training Improvement Act(HR 27) would put into effect President Bush's proposal to award grants to two-year institutions to work with businesses and local work-force-investment boards to provide job training in high-growth, high-skill fields with labor shortages. Half of that money would come from what is referred to as a "pilot and demonstration" account in the bill, and half would come from national reserve funds for worker-training programs.

...Community-college lobbyists fear that such a plan would divert resources from other job-training programs. Still, those lobbyists were generally pleased with the bill debated on Wednesday, particularly with a new provision offered by Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, Republican of California, that would clarify that only community colleges would be eligible for the new grants.

End slice 2:

Watch out for this one. This is another corporate welfare porkbarrel effort in disquise. Humm, who is responsible for work force training? Should tax payer dollars be used to subsidize job training? Economic arguments could be made that it is profitable for the government to do so as it would mean less spent by corporations on job training, and therefore lead to better prices to the consumer. In the long run, however, my bet would be that it just lines the pockets of the corporate elites once again.

In the end, the idea smells good, but it sure stinks after you cook it a bit.


Anonymous said...

What if Spellings is correct?It's asserted that a college education is valuable to the tune of something like 2X lifetime earnings over a high school education. But the dollar value of the education may be entirely due to the costly IQ test that a college education is.

A few year ago, some wag asked the Yale entering freshmen this question, Would you rather have the money instead? A significant number raised their hands.

A controlled experiment would take the top 10 (admission standards) colleges and randomly assign half the applicants to NO COLLEGE. My contention is that the qualified NO COLLEGE people would make even more money that the applicants who went to college - they'd have a 4 year head start.

It isn't that difficult for people who are lacking in pure ''education'' to find one entirely on their own. Pushing unmotivated and possibly undeducable people through the educational system does nothing for society. They don't learn anything and it costs money. It would be cheaper to give them the money and they would like it better. Heated and air conditioned space isn't cheap, likewise books, dorm space, computers, phones, and food.

All others bring data

''Education'' as presently construed has yet to examine itself as a value-adding entity. If education (schools, professors, etc.) is only an expensive IQ test, Who needs it?

windspike said...

While the aims of education vary by individual, there are collective goals that we hold for schools and colleges.

As to the purpose and validity of the existence of postsecondary educational institutions, there actually has been a tremendous amount of emperical work done to justify them beyond simiply fun, but expensive places to hang one's hat for a several years.