George Will has a problem that he may not have spotted, despite his usual perspicacity. He single-handedly put the "65 percent solution" on the map last year, only to see it discarded by Rod Paige (and virtually everyone else knowledgeable about schools) as "one of the worst ideas in education." He could have followed the simple maxim: when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Instead, he's back, shovel in hand, this time with a complaint that the National Center for Education Statistics is trying to spoil this approach to education-reform via spending controls. Statstud and his colleagues, he claims, are now conflating spending on instruction with spending on "instruction-related activities"--pushing the national average for instructional expenditures above the 65 percent threshold and thereby throwing water on the reform scheme. In seeing a government conspiracy at work, Will gives NCES way too much credit. He may not entirely realize how unreliable federal data on school expenditures have always been, making the 65 percent standard nearly meaningless in the first place.
"Education's Moving Target," by George Will, Washington Post, October 1, 2006
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