Belmont Club

And I Think It's Going to Rain Today

Glenn Reynolds has recently been posting frequently on the subject of education. Here are some of his more recent efforts. Each of his posts highlights one phenomenon. Things introduced to make things better often make things worse. What is more, you can’t even notice that it’s worse. To remark upon that would be a sign of intolerance.

THE IMPACT OF STIFFER BAR PASSAGE REQUIREMENTS on law school diversity. Bar passage, it turns out, correlates pretty closely with LSAT scores — not surprisingly, as they’re both big tests with a lot of multiple-choice questions — and affirmative action students, by definition, tend to have lower LSAT scores. My prediction is that the ultimate result will be intense pressure from law schools for the dumbing-down of bar exams. Related item here.

Jul 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm Link

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The University of California is cutting back on many things, but not useless diversity programs. “California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. ‘Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,’ the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine. Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing.” It’s a religion.

Jul 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm Link

Reynolds’ interest in education is understandable because he’s a law professor. But education is important. The problems with the educational system are direct threat to the greatest source of wealth a country has. Its human capital. And it’s not being formed as well as it should. In some cases it’s actually being destroyed. Potentially high achieving human beings are be literally thrown on the trash heap by an education system that seems interested mostly in collecting a paycheck

Nowhere was this issue more highlighted than in the Atlanta Public School system cheating scandal in which teachers and administrators faked the test results of their students rather than teach them anything. The Atlanta Journal Constitution said: “The saddest theme of the report dissecting the cheating rackets that enveloped Atlanta Public Schools was that so many educators did not believe their pupils were capable of meeting even minimal academic standards.” They didn’t teach, they just pretended to teach. And the fakery was laid on so thick it almost took on the aspect of an in-joke.

Gideons Elementary School is an instructive example. Despite the electronic sign at its entrance that ironically flashed “Character Word, Truthfulness” last week, Gideons was an epicenter of CRCT cheating. A dozen of its educators confessed in what was called a “coordinated, schoolwide cheating scheme.”

Shame seemed to have no effect. Few of the confessed cheaters wanted to quit even after they were unmasked. “Only two employees stepped down Monday as Atlanta Public Schools opened a three-day grace period to allow all employees implicated in an ongoing test cheating scandal to quit in lieu of being fired.” The woman at the epicenter of the scandal, Beverly Hall, seemed likely to escape unscathed since the state was obliged to pay for her defense even against itself. “Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall took home more than a half-million dollars in “performance” pay between 1999 and 2009, according to records obtained by 11Alive News’ Center for Investigative Action. However, getting that money back could cost more than it’s worth.”

Employment contract attorney Matt Billips told 11Alive’s Center for Investigative Action that Hall’s legal costs to defend herself, against a civil action by the Board, could be in excess of $1 million, which the board would have to pay.

“If they recover the $580,000, she pays it to them and they have to pay it back to her because they’re indemnifying her. They’re not just indemnifying her for the cost of the defense, they’re indemnifying her for any damages,” Billips said.

The fix was in even before the fix needed to be in. And it’s not getting any easier to get answers. Beverly Hall was too sick to answer any questions as she vacationed in Maui, even as she heartily toured the beaches and sampled the cuisine with gusto as the video below shows. What is especially interesting about the scandals was that the “educators” are ruining the very people they purport to help. As Glenn Reynolds noted, too many do-gooding schemes are looking like scams to force “medicine” down the throat of beneficiaries that is indistingishable from poison. With help like that, who needs hindrance? The cumulative effect of all that philanthropy is likely to be a one-way trip to the intellectual mortuary.

But it’s all about appearances isn’t it. The theory is that even reality must fall to the power of invincible spin. You’ve got your grade from Atlanta Public Schools so the education must be there, even if, as one commenter noted, there are people who matriculate without being able to read their own names. There’s no lie so big that you can’t swallow it if you’re prepared to. Just mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Some people mind, but maybe it doesn’t matter either.