Thursday, August 7, 2014

Test-R-Us, Inc.

Testing has driven the curriculum ever since the Raygoons came to power. It has only grown in impact and influence since then.

"Accountability," it was called, back then. It was already a disputatious topic, even then (early-mid 80s, when I was in Grad School, working on a PhD in Ed). The first book on it that I read was this:
Accountability in American education: A critique (January 1, 1976), by Martin, Overholt and Urban.
Though nearly 40 years old, it could be well revived, inasmuch as it answers almost ALL of the red herrings, straw men and other fallacies which the proponents extol still today.

So-called 'accountability' was "demanded" by "reformers" who piled it atop the mythology that teachers have/had soft jobs, short hours, and "3-months-vacation a year!"

And the growing realization, even then, that there was a whole fcking PILE of money to be plundered.

Oh, and union busting.

Which is the Murkin way. And the Raygoons were on it like stink on shit: Bill Bennett, Chester "Chukker" Finn, Lamar Alexander, Chris Whittle, E.D. Hirsch, all the usual grifters, all rode that wave. Remember "A Nation At Risk?"

Testing today has become an end in itself. Tests today mainly exist to provide psychomeretricians with fresh data with which to construct newer, more revealing tests. The only interest that Bill Gates has in education at all is to corner the market in educational software and to own the licenses to all the IT curricular applications.

But the "accountabalists" STILL want teachers' performances assessed and judged by how well their students perform on essentially meaningless instruments designed mainly to elicit information to write more tests.

We're not "poor," we're temproarily embarrassed millionaires, as Steinbeck put it.

And this attitude is the product of the longest, continuous, uninterrupted stimulus-response experiment in history. We live in a gigantic Skinner-box--and the myriad others which we mistake for 'individuality'--the walls of which are comprised of the flickering blue screens with which we surround ourselves, and from which we are never far.

Divisa et impera.

The Ipod, and it's ilk, has very nearly completed the task, creating the millions and billions of "niche" markets which are the definitions of our shopping desires: The apotheosis of atomization--which is the mist, as dispersed and divided one CAN be.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mutually Assured Dishonesty

Yer ol Perfesser's gotten really weary of this meme:
The "deficit" is only reduced two ways:
1) Increase revenues.
2) Decrease expenditures.
Clinton raised some taxes, but he also cut services; he had a regime change in Yugoslavia to finance. 
Lowbar hasn't raised taxes (GOPhux obstructionism)...and the wars just keep adding up.
Ergo, to reduce the 'deficit,' they HAD to reduce expenditures.
Clinton nominally raised taxes, but slick accountants (Arthur Anderson, anyone) and tax attorneys had work-arounds in place before the ink was dry. Services were cut, though rhetorically disguised in several ways, like 'ending welfare as we know it.'
Lowbar went full-on austerity, freezing gummint salaries and hiring, cutting programs, reducing services.
For whom?
I'll give ya a hint: It WASN'T the military, the banks, the corporats, or wealthy white people.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Correlation =/= Causation, Revisited: Education & "Success"

Yer ol' perfesser (amply supplied with degrees (three and a half of 'em), all of which were paid for by the State, one way or another, what with the GI Bill, scholarships and assistantships) hopes everybody already knows that correlation does not imply causation?


Yes, the 'level' of one's formal education is to some (greater or lesser) extent correlated with income: a "higher level" of (formal) education is often part of the resume of wealthier, more 'successful' people.

But industry, gummint, and the Owners have constructed a mythology and an 'industry' (for-profit "colleges") around that correlation and have marketed it as if the relation were causal, when it is NOT.
Getting a "degree" will NOT lead to financial/economic/career "success."


The myth constructs/portrays the phenomenon exactly bass-ackwards.

The relation upon which the myth is premised goes back to a period when only those who were of the 'upper-middle class' and 'higher' were ABLE (or permitted) to attend institutions of higher learning. The wealthy GOT degrees, but the degrees did not confer wealth or even the opportunity to gather it. Rather, a degree was often the signature of inherited status and the wealth that that implied.

But, to gin up revenues (and, not incidentally, to supply 'industry' with another tool by which to discriminate in hiring without appearing to do so), they owners and the institutions began to portray it the OTHER way, and so it has become, in the mythology of getting ahead.

Meanwhile, as the costs of 'higher education' escalate at rates far in excess of the rates of other, recently commodified social 'goods,' those aspiring to improve their chances in the rigged "game of Life" have been convinced that it is worth it, somehow, to mortgage their futures and voluntarily indenture themselves--and their families--with loans they 1) cannot hope to repay and 2) cannot escape through bankruptcy, the revenues of which enrich shysters and grifters in an "industry" created from the fabrics of hope and despair.