Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Discovery: Air Travel to Blame for Being Left Behind!

I have discovered the cause of declining achievement in the United States: it's air travel and I have proof!

Despite the warnings to arrive at the airport early, and despite the schedule updates and the itineraries provided electronically by the airlines, I observe many people running to the gate.
People who are 30 minutes late claim it was due to the longer than expected check-in line (maybe five minutes longer), the longer than expected security line (maybe 10 minutes longer) or anything other than the truth—people who travel by air can no longer tell time! It must be true as so many are so late.
Despite several signs posted near security, despite references listed on travel agent and airline websites, and despite ample newspaper coverage, people still leave their shoes on, attempt to carry "liquids or gels" through security, don't take their laptop out of their carry-on bag, forget to hold their boarding pass, leave their cell phone in their pocket, etc.
People who fly can no longer read! How else do you explain it?
A "little elderly lady" schleps a huge roller bag on board, plus one large carry-on bag and one gigantic purse. Said lady has a dickens of a time getting it into the overhead bin. When the flight attendant helps her and asks her why she didn't check the biggest and heaviest bag, she replies that she hates to wait so long at baggage claim to retrieve it.
People who fly have lost their common sense, patience, and suffer from diminished intellectual capacity! They perhaps also suffer from the delusion that others will help them with their bag and that the space above or below their seat really belongs to them!
A group of passengers waits to board the plane or waits for their baggage after the flight. The closer to departure the closer they creep to the door; or once the buzzer sounds the closer they inch toward the carousel. When it is time to depart or time to get their bags, no one can get in efficiently because of the crowd.

Air travel causes humans to behave like livestock where each follows the lead such as not to be left out of whatever the lead sees or gets!

Think I'm wrong? Check it out the next time you get to the airport. Chances are you have displayed one or several of these behaviors yourself. But I guess if that were true you would not have the time to read this post, nor the ability to really read the words, nor the patience to read it to the end, where before which you would have become distracted thinking about what others who have already read it are doing.

Humm...I wonder if I can get to LA by way of Omaha?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Big Government

I am a big believer in free enterprise. I thought, until recently, that the one thing that is consistent with Republican theology is limited government. Then I read what Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said about her views on American colleges in Newsweek. Basically, the Secretary is calling for making:
"...higher education more accountable by opening up the ivory towers and putting information at the fingertips of students and families."
The Secretary claims it is all but impossible for families to compare schools and make an intelligent choice because there is a lack of comparable information. According to the Newsweek article:
"Spellings and others would like a national database that discloses things like graduation rates, how well students are educated, and how much they earn afterward."
This sounds like "Big Government" to me. Only the indicators deemed "appropriate" would be used to "rank" the colleges and, all of a sudden, free enterprise (defined as my ability to choose from a mix of perceived value via offsetting quality and price) becomes forced choice. If, as the Secretary points out, "consumer demand is a big part of this" (i.e., her desire to make information available), then let the free market dictate which colleges parents and students choose based on what the market says, not what big government says.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Reading First: A "Scorching" Review by the US Inspector General

An internal review by the US Inspector General found little to celebrate regarding the USDOE's handling of the Reading First program. The report makes some very strong claims:

The selection of the review panel violated the law because each application was not reviewed by the appropriate panel.
The USDOE substituted a department-created report in place of the panels comments.
State applications were forced to meet standards not required by law.
The review panels were not representative of the agencies authorized to do the review; and the majority of the reviewers were actually nominated by the USDOE.

While the report is very critical of the USDOE in many regards, the report finds (among other issues) that the USDOE did not follow its own guidance for the Peer Review process.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have been through several statewide Peer Reviews for the AYP/NCLB assessment compliance and found those to be very inconsistent. We followed a "black box" process where we provided information going in (with little knowledge of how it was going to be used). Coming out of the "box" was compliance or noncompliance. I have often wondered what went on inside that black box; and the Reading First review makes me even more curious.

Perhaps the Inspector General should consider auditing or reviewing the AYP/NCLB (Title I) Peer Review process, if for no other reason than to open this black box. Or is that Pandora's box?