Corection: Wednesday we mentioned Mitch Daniels' two poses,
Pensive and Surly. We failed to include Mufti,which is basically Surly
when he needs the protective coloration of a seed cap. We regret the mistake.
I KNOW many of you were concerned that Indiana's Bonzai Governor Mitch "Below Average" Daniels would spend a second straight forlorn week in his office, trying to find another group of state employees to pass out certificates of Long-Term Employment Due To Union Protections Which Prevented The Daniels Administration From Firing Everyone Above Entry-Level Pay Grade to, and posing for more pin shots. You may rest easy; Mitch found a way to turn his current Presidential campaign-by-proxy concern (covering his tracks on Indiana education) with the process of aligning himself with out-of-work Republicans desperate to start ruining things again, his penchant for free-wheeling staged "discussions" of his side of an issue, and his love of Photo-ops, by inviting former Florida governor and Lehman Brothers advisor Jeb "He's Still Alive?" Bush to town to explain how he single-handedly improved Florida's public education test scores by kicking all the featherbedding union lesbians in the ass.
Bush outlined the changes he made in Florida that included a stronger accountability system that gives schools letter grades such as A or F, more charter schools and ability to transfer to other public or private schools, flooding schools with reading resources and requiring students to pass a state reading test before they could be moved from third to fourth grade.
Daniels said he would like Indiana to adopt everything Bush described -- and more.
Okay, class, we're going to go over this for as long as it takes for everyone to get it, and, Mr. Daniels, if you'll stop selling reefer to your classmates and listen it might help. There is one and only one test which is given to students throughout the country, in Grades 4 and 8: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Mr. Daniels! It is not, as we apparently have to keep reminding you, some sort of Absolute Scale on which all educational performance may be graded, but it is a uniform test, and it does avoid the problem of states lowering test standards for political purposes, not that we're accusing anyone, or his brother. That, in fact, once we reduce education to assessments of competence in those areas which are amenable to the process of assigning numerical values we have already accepted an argument under the pretense of examining one. Anybody? Okay, maybe that's too advanced for the room.
Now, then, let's take a peek at the state figures for Florida, shall we? Mr. Daniels, stop that this instant! or I'll take away your booster seat. Oh, look: why, in Grade 4 reading Florida has gone from just 53% of students scoring at Basic competence levels or above to a remarkable 70% in the past eighteen years. Observations? Yes, Mr. Daniels?
"Indiana started at about that time 20 points ahead of Florida." "If we had progressed at the rate Florida did, we would be a national leader."
I see. Well, in fact, Mr. Daniels, had Indiana progressed at the rate Florida did in that time, we'd now have 119% of our students scoring at the Basic competence level or above, which, indeed, would lead the nation by a substantial margin. This raises the question of how you did on the Math section, though it does answer a lingering question about your tenure at OMB. Instead, sir, what we have here is a prime illustration of the theory of If You're Lying Face Down In A Shithole There's No Way To Go But Up. Though we should not allow this to color our appreciation of Florida's praiseworthy rise to near-competence.
Speaking of Math, and if we've recovered momentarily from the Blinding Miracle that Jebbie Wrought, let's take a look at those Indiana numbers, shall we? Basic competence levels in Grade 4 Reading have indeed remained flat since 1992, though the number scoring at the Proficient level or above increased by 10%. Not exactly a small potatoe, Mr. Quayle, particularly since, unlike Florida, the state has scored above the national average all that time. And Indiana Grade 4 Basic level Math achievement has gone from 60% to 89%, and Grade 8 from 56% to 76%, all the while remaining above the national averages. Which means, Mr. Daniels, in case you were raising that finger to count with, not wag, that Indiana's "miracle" exceeds Florida's if you just bother to look at the data points in the next column. I'm sure that was an honest omission, and I'm sure you'll now wish to acknowledge that not doing what Florida does is an even better idea.
Mr. Daniels, I've warned you before. If you don't stop misbehaving every time someone disagrees with you I'm going to sit you between two normal-sized children for the class picture.