Thursday, February 09, 2006

more brilliance from the administration

I read in the NY Times this morning that a federal higher education commission wants a measure to make sure the universities are doing their job.  Possibly through standardized testing.  Because we all know how well standardized tests taken in high school predict college performance, and how much they improve high school education.  The idea that a single test could measure what all kinds of different people in different programs at different schools get from their education is ludicrous.  Did these bureaucrats GO to college?  Hopefully this is one guy talking and won’t turn in to policy.


MattyA said...

Amen, sister. Preach it! Maybe they can call it No College Student Left Behind. Then the new social security program can be No Senior Citizen Left Behind (except those who aren't good at managing their personal accounts). Let's not forget No Personal Liberties Left Behind (also known as the Patriot Act). And the new energy program - No Fossil Fuels Left Behind (because they've all been burned). Sorry, maybe I've been living in Europe too long and the cheap shots are rubbing off.

Huisj said...

Hey, lay off, the MEAP changed my life. Without it, I might be a knockoff Rolex hustler on the streets of downtown Lansing.

Oh, and Matt, cheap shots aren't so cheap when they're pretty much (sadly) true.

KBush said...

Oh, boy. Don't even get me started on standardized tests and academic aptitude. Did you know that the head of the Dept. of Education isn't actually an educator, and never has been? I think that with all of the competition with academics in Japan and other countries over the past several years, people want a concrete way to find out how our education system is doing, and they see "standardized" tests as that objective way of doing so. Don't we already have a standardized test for college called the GRE?

On another note, GWBush steamed me a bit the other night talking about how we have to stress science and math education in schools. I realize that I'm an English teacher, but biases aside, what about communication skills? Good writing skills? Pretty soon, we'll be getting memos saying
"2 Staff
Frum: me

U have 2B at a mtng 2nite at 7pm, but if u don't make it, w/e. LOL."
(Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have kids turn in papers (!) with u instead of you, b4 instead of before, etc. Drives me nuts and results in large red Xs and borderline mean notes.) Seriously, though, he wants to pull in "professionals" to teach these things (because we all know that those who have been "in industry" are obviously better teachers than people who have been trained in math and science pedagogy) and push math math math science science science (not that I'm opposed to science; I'm quite fond of it, in fact). Great! We'll have a bunch of people who can put together an electric car but no one can write down the plans. What happened to being well-rounded people?

On another note, Matt, did you know that the USA PATRIOT Act is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act? I didn't believe it when I first heard it, but I've found it several places since then.

On a completely unrelated note, I was reading an article in the Washington Post about the Sen. McCain-Sen. Obama letter dispute, and the author called it an "epistolary donnybrook"! Hyperbole perhaps, but where else do you see the phrase "epsitolary donnybrook"? I thought it was pretty sweet.

Okay, end of educational rant.

Huisj said...

As a mathematically inclined person, I can definitely see the value of increasing math education for high school students, but the plans I've heard about (mostly here in Michigan) seem totally ridiculous. They are suggesting that kids need to take more advanced levels of math, like more trig and calc. I'm not convinced this is where the focus needs to be right now for the majority of high school students.

Right now I'm taking a few automotive tech classes for fun. Most of the folks in them are just out of high school and are taking them with the hope of eventually becoming automotive repair technicians. The other day we were going over simple electronic circuits, and we talked about how Ohm's law works (voltage = current x resistance). I was blown away by the number of people in there who pretty much just wanted to give up the second they saw a math equation on the powerpoint slide. Mumblings of "oh, I'm no good with numbers" and "I'm terrible at math" quickly came out across the room, and people really had fearful looks in their eyes just from the thought of simple multiplication or division. To me, this showed where the focus on math here needs to go for many--back to reinforcing the basics. And I suppose similar arguments could be made for reading and writing. Whatever happened to phonics or grammar? The emphasis seems to be so heavily on "just getting thoughts down" or learning meaning before learning fundamentals that it seems like we'll have a whole generation of people who write like they're half illiterate.

Then again, I'm no teacher, so I could be way off here. What do engineers know? (but hey, at least at Calvin, I was still forced to take classes that made me read and write instead of just doing math math math math math all the time)

bethany said...

I'm not saying that some people aren't grossly uneducated, but I am suggesting that our universities are not at fault, and even if they are standardized testing is not the way to fix it. accreditation programs and internal task forces are already thinking about what is the purpose of college and how to improve. Government interference will only hurt this process with arbitrary requirements.

I also find it interesting that the government is not willing to take "just trust us" from the universities, but we are expected to "just trust" the government to not use the patriot act for evil.

o1mnikent said...


I wonder if Bush has read the "Left Behind" series.