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In the penal colony

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday November 12, 2009 11:24 AM

One can only marvel at the mad sadistic ingenuity, the compulsive, perseverative overelaboration of torture, the finical luxuriance of bureaucratic cogwheels, worm gears, escapements, and ratchets, that marks the Merit Administration's approach to "education". The program actually has the amazingly sinister name "race to the top". From the New York Times:

[T]he Race to the Top program, which will reward some states undertaking bold school improvement initiatives with awards totaling $4 billion, [requires] states... to prepare applications for a first round of the grant competition, and [then] a second round. Applications must comprehensively describe multifaceted strategies for change....

A perfect application would earn a state 500 points, with 125 points allotted for articulating a perfectly coherent agenda for change; 70 points for adopting higher standards and higher quality tests; 47 points for developing computerized systems to track student academic progress; 138 points for recruiting quality teachers, evaluating their effectiveness, and using the evaluations in tenure and other key decisions; 50 points for turning around failing schools; 30 points for other miscellaneous categories of change; and 40 points for fostering the growth of charter schools.

Of course what all this metastatic hypertrophy of "process" boils down to, at the end of the day, is the executioner's axe:
The New York schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, said the administration had improved the rules dealing with failing schools. The draft rules left states free to choose frequently ineffective halfway measures, like replacing a school’s principal, in outlining their main turnaround strategies. The final rules, he said, require states to use bolder measures in a majority of school overhaul efforts, like replacing entire school staffs or closing a school entirely.

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