April 10th, 2008

Ansom (WTF), Ansom (Thunderstruck)

Fairfax County Department Of Useless And Inflammatory Statistics

Marc Fisher's column in today's Washington Post begins with the question:

What would drive one of the nation's most successful and respected school systems to report which racial and ethnic groups demonstrate the soundest moral character and ethical judgment?

The answer, it appears, is a classic case of bureaucratic "thought" run amok:

But in Fairfax, and in schools across the land, the instinct -- no, the compulsion -- is to amass data points and "disaggregate," ed-lingo for looking at children not as individuals but as members of a group. The move to quantify grows from a religious devotion to test scores, a faith that the shaping of a mind can be mapped like a cancer cell and expressed as a number. And the resort to race stems from the balkanization of society, the self-destructive notion that we are a collection of groups rather than a nation of individuals who believe what it says on the coins in your pocket: e pluribus unum -- out of many, one.

"The superintendent told me that the reason they broke it down by race was that two years ago, the board decided to report all data by race," Hone says. "That was part of the No Child Left Behind frenzy. This is a classic case of a pendulum overswing."