Thursday, December 23, 2004


When first-year students at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, receive their grades, they may see As or Bs, even if their academic performance doesn't merit it. Under Success Equals Effort (SEE), a controversial new grading policy, freshman grades at the historically black university are calculated on a 60-40 formula: effort counts for 60%, academic performance for only 40%. In their second year, the formula is 40-60. Only in their third junior year will students be judged strictly on academic performance.

The SEE programme, which is being scrutinised by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges, was introduced a year ago by Benedict's president, David Swinton, who went to Harvard himself, but insists that incoming students lack the study habits and other skills necessary to succeed. It has caused an uproar among faculty members, and alumni too have wondered whether the quality of their own degrees will be questioned.

The fuss about the SEE policy has crystallised worries about black education in general (blacks score lower in normal exams than whites and Asians) and about "historically black" universities in particular. Benedict College is one of 105 such institutions that educate some 300,000 students. Many of them were founded in the South in the late 19th century to serve black students banned from attending segregated state universities. Martin Luther King, Spike Lee and Toni Morrison all attended black colleges. They may account for only 2% of America's student population, but they award a quarter of all bachelor's degrees given to blacks.

Black universities are still around 90% black.... Black colleges often take on students who might not otherwise go to university. Such students are often not just poorer, but need more time to achieve a degree. At North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, only a quarter of the students who entered in 1992-99 had graduated after four years. When such students leave, they tend to be more in debt.....

More here

US education gets low grade on ALEC report card: "'Overall, the facts presented by this year's Report Card on American Education give us no cause for celebration. In fact, they confirm the same trend presented in past years' reports: increased spending without corresponding improvement in student performance. Over ten years have passed since the Goals 2000 agenda was proposed, and America has failed to reach these goals, despite increasing per-pupil expenditures by more than 50 percent over the past twenty years.' That is the sobering conclusion of the American Legislative Exchange Council's 11th edition of the Report Card on American Education: A State by State Analysis: 1981-2003, released in September 2004."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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