Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Truth at Last!

Peter Schramm has asked me to come out of hiding and actually or really or truly become a blogging man. No doubt I will be more effective when I figure out how to LINK. Here’s the issue at Berry College today: Why do good colleges put up with all this assessment, learning outcome, rubric stuff imposed on them by third-rate schools of education? I welcome other issues, marginalized voices, confused identities etc.

Discussions - 19 Comments


That Peter Schramm: one smart, shrewd dude. After what, only a month or two with Isabella, he’s inspired to enlist Lawler more consistently? I fear what he’d accomplish if he bought a new FJR1300AE. Look forward to your contributions, Peter. It will be both fun and instructive.

If Berry is like my meager public institution, your reputation depends on being accredited. If people find out a school is unaccredited they naturally assume that something has gone amiss. Most schools do not have the reputation of Harvard wherein they can ignore the assessment culture and maintain their high reputation. Also, I believe some federal funding goes along with accreditation. Am I right on that? I don’t know how these accreditting agencies get their imprimatur. Certainly there is little connection to the kind of data they want to collect and what could reasonably be termed liberal education (indeed, if one looks at their "diversity" standards, they often run counter to the liberal idea). My institution is up for review this coming Spring. You would not believe the silliness we are going through to bow at the master’s feet. Or, then again, maybe you would believe.

Yes, Jon, the accrediting agencies have been designated as gate-keepers for federal money. The Department of Education has, to its credit, opened up the business slightly, permitting a few more gate-keepers in, but nothing like the blogosphere. Effectively, the regional associations still control the gold standard, with the AALE offering an alternative route with more academic integrity.

Everything that’s been said is true. But the question remains: Why don’t the rich, influential, and excellent schools tell those administrator-fools to go to hell? Nobody is REALLY going to believe Davidson or Centre or Hampden-Sydney doesn’t deserve to be accredited. They really and truly have nothing to fear.

As a Davidson grad, I find the question you’ve posed pretty interesting, Peter; I should say that when I was there, I was blissfully unaware of any standardized straightjackets at Davidson, but that may reveal both my age and my narrowness of focus.

I want to echo Jon’s point above and say that it seems to me that where public schools get saddled with that stuff, it’s partly because a) administrators respond to the right-wing critique of universities as a hotbed of liberalism, so they want external methods of control, and b) they’re trying to mimic a perceived corporate culture or at least provide themselves with some bureaucratic cover in that regard.

Somebody, I think it was Tocqueville or Walker Percy (-that’s a joke, for those of you who know Peter’s past work - ), wrote about democracy’s tendency to defer, unduly, to expertise. That’s a regime-cause.
The modern regime is also the scientific-regime. Modern science is both value-neutral and technical or technological. Thus the weakness of one component of the regime, democracy, conspires with the arrogance of another regime-principle.
A third (Marxist?) regime-reason: the market or market-model tends to chase other sorts of models of organization and evaluation out. Bloom talked about this in his own way in Closing.

Welcome, blog-meister Peter.

As Paul knows, every time I don’t know what I’m talking about, I preface my remarks with "studies show." For the reasons Paul gives "studies show" has more authority in a democracy than the more personal and reasonable "I think."
There’s a two-part series on "Studies Show" by Thomas Sowell that you can access on Real Clear Politics. (Dan Mahoney told me about it and sent me the link, but I’m too lazy to insert it here.) But I got "studies show" from the fictional Phil Donashue show in Walker Percy’s LOST IN THE COSMOS. Sowell, as usual, is sensibly popularizing an idea put forward by wiser but less articulate men.

Sol Stern has a must-read article about "social justice" and ed. schools; it’s available over at the Manhattan Institute website. It kindofmakes a former Ashland professor’s antipathy toward schools of ed. understandable.

I vaguely remember that Diana Schaub has something she wrote on/against "outcomes-based evaluations" views of education. I do remember she was reading Eva Brann on liberal education at one point, in order to contrast a true educator (and education) with quantitative measurements/measurers educrats.

It would be good if some Biblio-person could dig out that Diana Schaub article against outcomes assessment. But why isn’t there a popular conservative polemic against schools of education? Instead we come up with No Child Left Behind. Actually, in Georgia, there’s an initiative that may or may not succeed to list the grade-school student’s Body Mass Index on the report card along with the more traditional grades. I’ve suggested they call that the No Child Left with a Behind program.

Is this the one Peter and Paul mean?

Yes, it is, Peter. Very techno-savvy of you. Impressive.

BTW: your line about "no child with a behind" is very wickedly funny.

Except that it was Knippenberg, not Lawler. His presence has clearly totally eclipsed mine.

Oops! Mea culpa. Credit where credit it due: to Master Joe. (I should have known that Peter’s handicapped in that way, while you’re a wizard and a whiz.)

Today’s dumb phrase from our oxymoron the school of education: experiential education. What kind of education transcends experience?

Experiential education? Is that like Chemistry Lab or is it what they call the kindly practice of giving older students credit for life experience, as Capital U. in Columbus does, or used to do?

Or how do they or you mean education transcends experience? I guess it is an oxymoron as my head will not wrap around this.

1. more like giving students credit for life experience or working in soup kitchens or filling out immigrants’ tax forms.
2. again, my lame attempt at humor failed me. there’s no such thing as edcuation that transcends experience.
so all education is experiential education. what else could it be?
--thanks, as usual, for keeping me honest.

Peter, It was funny, because absurd. How about a transcendental educational experience? Could I have one of those? I might need one to be able to help immigrants fill out tax forms.

I guess that to get the loan from banks you must have a great reason. Nevertheless, once I have received a secured loan, just because I was willing to buy a building.

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