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Monday, September 10. 2007
It's about time. Those rankings turn college "quality" into a dumb horse race, entirely overlooking what might be the best schools for a given kid. Schools have identities and a wide variety of different strengths and weaknesses, none of which can be captured in a ranking any more than you can rank individual people on overall "quality."
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Yes, no matter what the criteria, college rankings are horse manure. It's the quality of the department, not the university, that matters.
RW Prof: FYI - Neither your link nor your blog are working today.
I am pro rankings. Colleges hate these rankings because they want parents to fork over $40,000 and not know what they're getting. These rankings aren't perfect, but they do emphasize things like graduation rates, class size, alumni giving etc. This is total BS from Amherst. ALWAYS be suspicious when elite liberal colleges try to protect themselves. Transparency is good -- in business and in education.
Nothing wrong with getting that data out. It's the overall rankings that they dislike. It's not as though Amherst has to worry about its ranking.
Department Of Justice Declares Math To Be Racist
VIRGINIA BEACH — The U.S. Justice Department has found that the math portion of the Virginia Beach Police Department’s entrance exam discriminates against black and Hispanic applicants.
In a letter to the city released Wednesday, the Justice Department said its findings were based on results of a math test administered to all entry-level police officers.
The Justice Department said it will sue the city if Virginia Beach does not take appropriate measures to end discrimination and provide “sufficient remedial relief” to previous job applicants.
On Wednesday, city officials said they do not discriminate and the math portion of the exam assesses job-related skills.
So let me get this straight: A math test given to all entry-level police officers is racist because fewer black and hispanic applicants are able to pass it than white applicants?
Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. How can math be racist? Or even discriminatory? As long as everybody gets the same test, where's the problem?
Here's some specifics about the test from the article:
The city requires all recruits to score at least 70 percent on all parts of the written exam – the National Police Officer Selection Test.
Between 2002 and mid-2005, about 59 percent of black applicants and 66 percent of Hispanic applicants passed the math test, compared with 85 percent of white applicants, according to the Justice Department letter.
First administered to Virginia Beach candidates in 1998, the test is designed to assess basic skills of a police officer. It is offered to prospective officers in 20 other states, according to the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“This is not a test we developed,” Jacocks said. “We are not looking for rocket scientists. This is a basic math aptitude test.”
One sample question framed a problem in the context of police work: “On Tuesday, Officer Jones worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. At 10:55 p.m. he was called to the scene of an accident where he remained until 1:30 a.m. How long past his regular shift did Officer Jones work?”
Still not seeing any racism. That blacks and hispanics perform poorly on the test compared to their white counterparts is hardly the fault of the police department.
Here's what prompted the inquiry from the Justice Department in the first place:
The hiring practices of the city’s police and fire departments were called into question in 2004 after a study showed a disparity between the racial composition of its population and its police and fire departments.
About 20 percent of Virginia Beach’s population is black and about 5 percent is Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau.
As of January, 15.9 percent of the city’s police officers were identified as minority. About 10.1 percent of the police force is black – an increase from 9 percent two years ago.
The announcement in 2004 of the Justice Department inquiry prompted the Virginia Beach branch of the NAACP to chastise the city for what it said were unfair hiring practices.
According to the article the Justice Department's only finding by way of "unfair hiring practices" was this math test. Which leaves me still wondering how a math test given to every applicant can be unfair. Is the Justice Department really saying that it is discriminatory for the Virgina Beach Police Department to only hire applicants with math skills above a certain level?
Personally, if I were a black or a hispanic, I'd find it a bit insulting that the Justice Department would assume that there is some inherent racial deficiency at play here that must be catered to by forcing employers to "lower the bar." Plus, how absurd is it to expect that a Police Department's racial makeup reflect the racial makeup of the community at large? The Police Department should be hiring the best applicants available to them regardless of factors as arbitrary as skin color.
If we want to address the fact that hispanics and blacks are having problems with a remedial math test maybe, instead of tossing around accusations of racism and discrimination, we should turn our eyes on the education system that has apparently failed these people.
The blog's not working because I'm changing hosting providers and the nameservers have to update to point to my new provider. I should be back online tomorrow or the next day.
And no, the rankings are pure crap. A university is not a monolith. It's a collection of colleges, schools and departments. It makes no difference what a university's ranking may be. Wharton (U Penn) is a better business school than Smeal (Penn State). That does not, however, make U Penn a better university than Penn State. It just means that U Penn has a better business school. If you're going into the physical sciences, then you'd best head for Penn State instead of U Penn, because all of Penn State's physical science departments are better. Again, that doesn't mean that Penn State is a better univeristy -- just that Penn State's physical science departments are better.
Nor do rankings have a damn thing to do with liberalism or politics. With the exception of an insignificantly tiny number of universities, all of them are nutso-batso liberal, regardless of the ranking. If you're sending your kids to a university because of some university ranking, you're running a big risk of wasting your money. Look instead at the department, college, or school (depending on what your kids want to do).
"nutso-batso liberal" --LOL, that's a desripto excellente--
will hunting: you see in 50 years you're going to start doing some thinking on your own, and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: 1, don't do that. and 2, you dropped a $150 grand on an education you could've gotten for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.
harvard grad student: yeah, but i will have a degree. and you'll be serving my kids fries on our way to a skiing trip.
Ok folks--here we go. If you are searching for the best education in a particular field, first go to the international associations of that field, i.e. American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), click on the various journals until you can get to a place where you can see the papers being presented--how do they read? Are they deep, well developed, and WELL RESEARCHED? You might find that that points you to several departments in several schools. Go to those schools website, click on those departments, then click on your special interest. You can then do a search within the department website, or check under the topic of research (it's usually set off in some way: research interests of faculty, research centers, funded research, etc.).
When you find a department that has folks working in your particular area of interest then go to those individual's websites. Look under their curriculum vitae for funded research projects, papers published. Then be sure to check courses taught. You may have to go back to the main website and look in the catalog. Compare the courses taught with the professor that looks most interesting to you. You need to get a sense of the overal serious, and well intentioned effort to provide both curriculum, courses, and access to best qualified teachers. There is no guarantee you will ever get to have private time(office hours) with your professor in an undergraduate public college,if s(he) is tenured. If you are a graduate student you should know by now the schools with the best programs in your field. If you ever run across a department whose faculty do not list their graduate degrees, and the schools they received them from, and the year they received them--run like hell. These people are so liberal that the straight, white, non-Jewish, non-gay men have been made to eliminate any information that appears to
give them elevated status (no meritocracy here folks). That is to say if the graduated with distinction from an upper class school (public or private) they will be asked not to mention that on their CV. If on the other hand they are a gal who took the fast ride to the top in a glass elevator, she will publish papers about how nice her profession is, or beautiful her subject, and her CV will show no dates nor exact wording on the degree. She could be teaching in a psychologcy clinical class with only a MA in Liberal Studies. She could even be teaching in a PH.D. program with less than a "real" Master's degree in her field. Yep, gone are the good old days of quality--the libs replaced them with corruption--ain't we got progress! One last thought on departments. Look for an integration among the faculty. If there are more than 2 or 3 per let's say 20 faculty, who come from the same college, you can bet there is a lot of "ol girlism" going on here. The department is extremely focused on politics. There must be diversity of college backgrounds among the faculty themselves. Ok folks, Good Luck! Don't forget that is academia who first tried to reinstate slave labor. In the 1990's they had an unspoken strategy: no white, non gay, non Jewish, non minority male was free to leave his college without first making sure that the woman following him "looked good". Men were required to stay on to help their replacement "look good". No nore just saying thank you very much, I would like to leave now--no sirree bob not in American universities, not in the 90's. It might look as if you disapproved of something that was being done on that campus. You know somehting like non-meritocracy--something like race quotas in hiring--something like student loan fraud, something like . . .