Saturday, September 24, 2005

Integration of a different kind

There's an absolute must-read in this morning's New York Times. In Raleigh, NC, 91% of Hispanic students and 80% of Hispanic students are at or above grade level on reading and math tests. Considering the figures are around 50% in most of the rest of the country, these are astounding figures.

How'd they do it?

The main reason for the students' dramatic improvement, say officials and parents in the county, which includes Raleigh and its sprawling suburbs, is that the district has made a concerted effort to integrate the schools economically.

Since 2000, school officials have used income as a prime factor in assigning students to schools, with the goal of limiting the proportion of low-income students in any school to no more than 40 percent.


When their racial integration plans were threatened by court cases, Raleigh officials developed the economic integration model to replace it. The results have been nothing short of magnificent.

Some experts said the academic results in Wake County were particularly significant because they bolstered research that showed low-income students did best when they attended middle-class schools.

"Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. "They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools."


Could this be replicated in other places? The topic is a compelling program and I'd love to learn more about it or similar ones in other parts of the country. If anyone out there knows of academic research or other journalistic reports on the topic, please post about them in the comment section.

Michigan heats up

The Michigan Governor's race could be very interesting next year and one of the key issues will be education.

Today, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (and '08 Presidential aspirant -- but who isn't these days?) blasted Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm because of her ties to unions. I'm so tired of this boring, tired, cliched critique of Democrats. God forbid elected officials should consort with (gasp) teachers! How dare they?!?

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Dick DeVos, who led a voter initiative to establish a statewide voucher program in 2002 that failed 70-30, has vowed not push for vouchers as Governor. From the Detroit Free Press:

DeVos told reporters that as governor, he would not pursue school vouchers. DeVos led a ballot proposal in 2002 to allow the use of public money for private schools through vouchers, but the proposal was defeated.

"I did have the courage to step up and offer an alternative because I couldn't stand and allow kids -- low-income kids in particular -- to be ill-served," he said. "The people of Michigan rejected that answer. I accept that decision. Vouchers are off the table."

But, he said, he would, as governor, pursue "other ways" to help educate children.


Other ways? Could you be a little more vague, Mr. DeVos?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Is it time for renewable energy yet?

From CNN:

Georgia cancels classes to save fuel

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue Friday asked for the closing for two days of all public schools across the state to save fuel, a school official with detailed knowledge of the plans told CNN.

The governor's office told school officials in a telephone conference call heard by the official earlier in the day that the plan is intended to save some 250,000 gallons of fuel by idling the buses alone.

Perdue's spokesman, Dan McLagan, would not confirm the report, saying only that "the governor is considering a number of options for conservatation as a precautionary measure. We don't know yet what the impact of Hurricane Rita will be.

Science on trial

Just a reminder that the modern-day Scopes Monkey Trial convenes on Monday. For details, check out this excellent Live Science report. Here's a sample including a quote from the publisher of the juornal Science:

A court case that begins Monday in Pennsylvania will be the first to determine whether it is legal to teach a controversial idea called intelligent design in public schools.

Intelligent design, often referred to as ID, has been touted in recent years by a small group of proponents as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution. ID proponents say evolution is flawed. ID asserts that a supernatural being intervened at some point in the creation of life on Earth.

Scientists counter that evolution is a well-supported theory and that ID is not a verifiable theory at all and therefore has no place in a science curriculum.

The case is called Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Prominent scientists Thursday called a teleconference with reporters to say that intelligent design distorts science and would bring religion into science classrooms.

"The reason this trial is so important is the Dover disclaimer brings religion straight into science classrooms," said Alan Leshner, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the journal Science. "It distorts scientific standards and teaching objectives established by not only state of Pennsylvania but also leading scientific organizations of the United States."



Update: The Wall Street Journal ran a good article on the upcoming court battle as well.

EMO's and vouchers

I don't usually respond to comments but every once in a while there's one I just can't pass up. Like this one (in response to my post yesterday about for-profit nursing homes and the obvious link to for-profit schools):

Put it in prospective [sic]! The billpayer for almost all nursing home patients is the federal government who sets a single price for the operators. Thus, nursing home operators are call price takers (the same as grain farmers and gold miners). The only way for nursing home operators to make a profit is to lower costs. However, private schools are more like restaurants. People are willing to pay different amounts to get different experiences.


Or you might say people are able to pay different amounts to get different experiences.

But with a universal school voucher program, like the one the Bush Administration is pushing for Katrina evacuees, there is a set amount, making it more like the nursing homes than the restaurant.

The only way for educational management organizations, or EMO's as they call themselves, to make a profit is to lower costs.

Private schools have their place but it is pure delusion to imagine that vouchers would give a real choice to poor parents. Most private schools cost $10,000 or more and a fixed voucher amount simply won't cover that. Poor and middle class families would be stuck with EMO's that are constantly working to slash programs to make bigger profits.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Get Education at the Brink through an RSS feed

I now have an RSS feed on the site-- finally. A regular reader walked me through it and now it should be functional. Underneath the blogroll there's an orange "Feed" button and also the words "Subscribe to Education at the Brink." Click either one to subscribe.

(Thanks, Lance, for your help with that.)

Profits vs. Care

A lot of people ask "Why not privatize education? Why not let the profit motive improve education" Here's an excellent answer in a Texas Observer article about for-profit nursing homes:

[It's] increasingly difficult for nursing homes to make money. The less scrupulous for-profit nursing homes boost earnings by curtailing staff and services.

“Every dollar you spend on care is one less dollar available for profit,” [Austin lawyer David] Bragg says. “My friends in the nursing home industry tell me that if you’re a very good businessman, you can provide good care and you can make a small profit. But if you provide lousy care, you can make a lot of money.”


The connection to education is obvious: the job of a corporation is, first and foremost, to make a profit. A distant second could be service to customers, caring for the environment, or improving society, but first is always profit. If that means providing less service, so be it. While less service in the airlines or in consumer electronics is merely annoying, in an industry like education or nursing homes, caring cannot come second.

If it does, as the Observer points out in its article entitled "A Death in McAllen," the result can be truly tragic. Profit has its place, but not in schools or nursing homes.

If past is prologue...

USA Today runs a story today on the half-billion dollar voucher program the Bush Administration wants to start to get Katrina evacuees -- from public or private schools -- into the school of their choice. There's a particularly interesting quote from the Superintendent of Mississippi schools:

Mississippi State Superintendent Hank Bounds, in Washington on Wednesday to lobby Congress for $1.8 billion to rebuild ravaged schools, said he wouldn't ordinarily support vouchers, but "these aren't ordinary circumstances. They are extraordinary.

"For a short-term fix, in order to open up as many schools as we can," such a proposal seems reasonable. Longer-term, "I think it's problematic."


I agree. I know that sounds crazy to regular readers of this blog, but there's a caveat: I don't trust the Bush Administration at all. And I'm not in a minority on that. The poll numbers and approval ratings show overwhelmingly that most people don't trust them. Spellings says it's a short term solution, but the Adminstration has lied so many times about so many things that nothing they say has any credibility anymore.

So, really, I agree with the idea. If there were an honest, trustworthy Administration in power -- Democratic or Republican -- and they said that this hurricane was so catastrophic and so disruptive that for one year this is the best way to get the evacuated students into schools, I'd believe them. But we don't have an honest administration, so I don't know if they mean it or not. No one does. I don't even think they know anymore. They're spinning things so fast that I think they forget what they really mean.

But if past is prologue -- and it usually is -- they're lying and this is no "one-year relief aid package" (as Spellings said yesterday). This is part of a long term plan to privatize education. And if that's true (and I sincerely hope that it's not), then this is a new low for the Bush Administration (and that's saying something). Because if it's true that means that they are using the unimaginable pain and suffering of hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to push a narrow, partisan, ideological agenda.

God, I hope it's not true.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Worst case scenario

For a different sort of a take on the massive amounts of Hurricane Rita coverage, check this out. It's from the Houston Chronicle last February and describes what might happen if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane struck near Freeport or Galveston (it's exact projected path) and slammed Houston, the fourth largest city in America.

If there is one blessing from Katrina, it's that hopefully everyone in affected areas, jittery from Katrina, will get the hell out of Dodge well before this thing comes ashore. Let's hope they do.

(Chronicle story came via the Chronicle's Sci Guy blog.)

Rare praise

It's rare that I get to praise Gov. Goodhair (aka Gov. Perry, R-Texas), but I've got to admit he's had a good month. He responded as well as could have been expected to the influx of a quarter-million evacuees and now he's named one of the state's most prominent Democrats to a blue-ribbon panel on school finance. John Sharp lost narrowly to Perry in a Lieutenant Governor race in 1998; now he brings gravitas and a much needed (and long overdue) dose of bipartisanship to the fledgling effort to fix the school finance system. (One regular session of the Legislature and two called special sessions have failed -- so far.)

Within the next two weeks, the Supreme Court will almost certainly say the system is broken. Everyone knew it, but their decision -- and the guidance in it -- will lead the Legislature to try once again to fix the system. Sharp's presence in the process can only be a plus.

No doubt, how Texas deals with school finance could -- potentially -- be a model to other states that face similar challenges. For example, in Texas one in every eight children is in a special education program. One out of every four lives in poverty. And another one in four needs English as Second Language instruction.

These are massive challenges and no matter what my conservative friends may think, they're going to be expensive challenges to meet successfully. Of course, money alone won't do it. It needs to be well spent, targeted money.

Conservatives love to talk about "business climate." What business would want to move to or stay in a "climate" without a well educated populace?

Sharp and his soon-to-be-named fellow panelists will try to make sure that we don't find out.

Huckabee's "Jesus juice"

The speculation over '08 continues as Edwards, Kerry, Clinton, Warner, Vilsack, McCain, Frist, and others assert themselves in the national media. Flying slightly under the radar is an inruiging Republican from Arkansas: Governor Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas Times has a long profile on him today.

He's intriguing because he seems to have great political instincts and a solid standing with religious conservatives. And we all know that it's not impossible for a relatively unknown Governor from Hope, Arkansas to win the Presidency (yes, Huckabee is from Hope, too). And while he is religious (he used to be a Baptist preacher) he differs from religious wackos on a few key issues. From the Arkansas Times article:

Huckabee recently has carved out more moderate positions on immigration and education. He opposed a bill introduced this year in the Arkansas legislature that would deny state benefits to undocumented immigrants, on the grounds that it violated the spirit of Christianity. “I drink a different kind of Jesus juice,” Huckabee said in reference to the bill’s right-wing sponsor. Huckabee supported another bill that would have allowed the undocumented high school graduates to qualify for in-state tuition and scholarships.

He has advocated consolidation of public schools in Arkansas, a progressive position that sparked outrage in rural communities. And just last month he announced his opposition to school vouchers. He said he was more concerned about government control of parochial schools than the loss of tax dollars to public schools.

Like i said, excellent political instincts. Vouchers are still very unpopular and Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the country. He has found a way to oppose vouchers and anti-immigration laws that would still please religious conservatives. Now that's hard to do.

And I love the comment about Jesus juice. It's hilarious. And smart. He'll be one to watch if he decides to run.

A temporary solution?

It's curious that today Secretary Spellings said that the voucher program for evacuee students is a temporary solution. It's curious because the Ed. Dept. under Bush has given millions of dollars in grants to pro-voucher groups. So are we expected to believe her when she says, as she did today, "This is a temporary situation. This is a one-year relief aid package"?

I'm not a betting man, but if I was I'd bet a lot that she's going to regret she ever said that. This ain't a one-year relief package. This is the beginning of a conservative idealogue's dream come true.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Have a question for the Governor of Virginia or the Governor of Iowa? Just get on their blog, post a comment, and voila!, instant feedback from the top executive of your state. What a country.

On Gov. Vilsack's Heartland PAC website, this thread was started by Gov. Warner yesterday. The original post was pretty staid but then a teacher and a student posted comments to which the Governor responded.

There's been a lot of lip service to how blogs might change the way elected officials interact with the general population but this is one of the first real life examples I've ever seen.

This is so cool. I'm looking forward to getting registerd and participating in the discussion over there, too. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Poor people, poor schools

John Edwards was conspicuously quiet in the three weeks following Katrina. Not so anymore.

His silence was particularly noticeable because his message was centered on eradicating poverty and here was a clear cut case of poverty brought out of the closet and into plain view. And it was ugly. Where was Edwards to say "I told you so." Well, it appears Edwards, to his everlasting credit, wasn't the "I told you so" type.

But no politician can (nor, in this case, should) stay quiet forever. Edwards has been tearing the Bushies a new one over the last few days.

Thomas Oliphant of the Boston Globe captured the spirit of Edwards' message this week in an editorial that appeared yesterday. He quoted Edwards from a speech made to People For the American Way:

''Nobody who works full-time should have to raise children in poverty or in fear that one health emergency or pink slip will drive them over the cliff," said Edwards.

Instead of Newt Gingrich's Conservative Opportunity Society or President Bush's even more narrow-minded Ownership Society, Edwards's conceptual framework surrounds the country most of us know every day: a Working Society. Bill Clinton famously aimed his 1992 presidential campaign at the Americans willing to ''work hard and play by the rules," and in the 1990s there was finally some progress in what have to be the twin objectives of national policy -- promoting vigorous economic growth and making long-delayed progress against poverty.

Those objectives have suffered in the first half of this decade, and Edwards is pushing for a revival.


Anyone concerned about education and children in America must also be concerned about poverty.

Test scores almost always correspond to household income and, far more importantly, so do high school and college graduation rates. A child in poverty is very likely to become an adult in poverty and right now one in every five children lives in poverty.

To make any real and sustained effort to reduce the achievement gap, we must also reduce (dare I say, eradicate?) poverty.

According to Human Events Online, one of Edwards' proposals for hurricane relief was to provide "Housing vouchers to let families move into areas with better schools, instead of giving school vouchers." It's an intriguing idea. Hey, conservatives, instead of "school choice" (in which choice doesn't include the schools your kids go to) how about "neighborhood choice" (in which choice does include your 'hood)? Something tells me they aren't going to like it.

Edwards will undoubtedly be a political force in the future. His political skills are evident. And his message is one that more and more Americans (unfortunately squeezed by short-sighted Bush Administration policies) understand -- firsthand.

I don't know much about Edwards' education policy positions, but I look forward to hearing him make the connection between poor schools and poor people. I want to hear him say that to improve the former, we have to improve the conditions of the latter.

School choice -- as long as you don't choose public schools

Bush's recovery plan for Katrina included nearly $500 million for private-school vouchers. According to an Education Department spokeswoman, the Administration is not ruling out the possiblity of adding more if there is enough demand to warrant it.

I don't doubt the intentions (either I'm a sucker or I just believe that somehow people are fundamentally good -- maybe both). I believe that they're trying to accomodate the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, many of whom attended private schools in N'Orleans. There are two main problems and People For the American Way nails them both:

Education policy experts have identified a wide variety of problems with the President’s voucher plan. Public schools are already accepting the overwhelming majority of displaced students, but they would be ineligible to receive the proposed voucher funds.


So, in other words, this is school choice, so long as you don't choose public schools? Why wouldn't public schools be able to accept the vouchers? The only way this possibly makes sense is if you subscribe to a conspiracy theory that the Administration really does hate public schools. Say it ain't so... PFAW continues:

Also, many of the private schools that could receive these funds could be ill-equipped to provide the comprehensive services that hurricane victims may need, including mental health services, counseling, free and reduced meals, and after school care—all services that public schools provide.


Private schools are great. They serve a useful purpose and, by and large, do excellent work. But they rarely have the types of supplemental services available that one would find in public schools. These services are going to be absolutely critical to Hurricane survivors. Can the private schools accepting vouchers ensure that they will be able to provide them?

I have serious doubts.

Monday, September 19, 2005

First the payola scandal, now this...

Looks like former Secretary Rod Paige is looking to profit from No Child Left Behind. Think he'll be able to buy his "clients" the much sought after but seldom given "flexibility" that current Secretary Spellings so often talks about? From the Rocky Mountain Telegram:

Rod Paige, the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and chief architect of President Bush's much-discussed No Child Left Behind Act, has organized a private consulting firm to help state school systems.

One of the firm's chief areas of expertise? That's right. Figuring out ways to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind.

Paige isn't alone in his endeavors. Three other former officials from the U.S. Department of Education are members of the same consulting firm. No doubt, they'll be worth every penny they charge. Who's better qualified to help school systems meet No Child Left Behind requirements than the administrators who designed the program in the first place?

We almost wonder if that isn't the firm's marketing slogan.

What do Virginia and Connecticut have in common?

About a year ago, Connecticut commissioned a study to determine how much No Child Left Behind was costing the state. After finding out that the cost was $41 million, they decided to sue. Similarly, Virginia commissioned a study of NCLB costs. The results are due in the next few days. If Virginia finds out that they are in the substantially in the red due to NCLB, the simmering revolt against overtesting in that state could explode, leading to yet another lawsuit.

Obviously, Virginia is a far more important state politically than Connecticut. It's big and very important to Republicans (two things Connecticut decidedly is not). This is one to watch.

The article that brought it to my attention is here.

Update: The gubernatorial candidates of Virginia weigh in on NCLB. Check out Independent candidate Russ Potts' answer.

Could we double teacher pay? Why not?

I meant to post about this editorial when it appeared last week in the Washington Post. Seeing it today in the San Jose Mercury News reminded me of it. It's written by Chris Whittle, founder and CEO of the much embattled Edison Schools, Inc., a chain of for-profit schools that take over persistently failing schools.

In the editorial, Whittle argues that teachers should receive 100% more money than they currently get--literally. He believes that teacher pay could be doubled without raising taxes. And how could that be done? Writes Whittle,

America has about 3 million teachers in its public schools. What if we had a new school design that required only 1.5 million teachers but paid them double current levels? Does that mean class sizes would be doubled? Not necessarily; it's not what I would recommend. But it would be a way to force us to confront this thorny question: Is a class of 30 with a great teacher educationally inferior to a class of 15 with a so-so teacher?


Interesting question, but most classes have 25 students, not 15, which means doubling them would give us 50 students per class, not 30. Also, Whittle doesn't talk about what a great teacher does. In many Edison schools, teachers are required to use Direct Instruction (DI) programs. I've used them before and believe me, they don't consitute great teaching. Far from it. DI requires a teacher to read from a script, prompt the students to give responses (which they provide in unison), and hand out rewards on punishments immediately based on the answers (which are also scripted). Hardly what I would call an exciting classroom.

But while my vision of a great education differs greatly from Whittle's, I'm intrigued by his editorial anyway. Consider this:

Boeing rolled out its first 777 aircraft only after 10,000 people had worked for years to design it. The company spent more than $3 billion spread across 200 design teams working on various aspects of the plane, from the wings to the cockpit layout to the baggage bin. The result: a plane that is safer, easier to fly, more efficient and more comfortable -- a new design.

Now, ask yourself: Who designed our public schools? Where is the 777 of elementary schools or high schools? I am not speaking of buildings. By design, I mean every detail of a school's program. The truth is that our schools were not carefully designed. Virtually all of them are an inherited hodgepodge of programs and initiatives piled one on top of the other.

In the whole course of American history, there has never been a school-design effort that even remotely compared with what Boeing does for just one airplane.


It's a great point. And while I don't think Direct Instruction should be a part of any school's program, I completely agree that there is a lack of cohesion in educational design. Could a design team be assembled, comprising diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, to make recommendations for a streamlined yet meaningful educational program?

Why not?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Explanation is not justification

There's an excellent article at the History News Network about how 9-11 is being presented in recent editions of popular history books. The whole article is fascinating and well worth reading but the words of one of my favorite historians, Eric Foner, particularly touched a chord with me:

Probably the best textbook on 9/11 is Eric Foner's Give Me Liberty, a new introductory college text that has been adopted at more than 300 institutions in its first year. It is also assigned in some high school AP classes, ranging from suburban New Trier Township High School in Illinois to Transit Tech High School in Brooklyn. Foner (a member of The Nation's editorial board), in addition to explaining bin Laden's opposition to specific US policies, also examines the Bush Administration's response--declaring suspect citizens "enemy combatants" and creating secret military tribunals--and places these decisions in historical context. He finds parallels between this response and previous efforts to limit civil liberties in the name of security: suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, persecution of German-Americans during World War I and Japanese-Americans during World War II, McCarthyism during the cold war. Foner thus connects the response to 9/11 with larger themes in American history, asking, "What is the proper balance between liberty and security? Who deserves the full enjoyment of American freedom?"

Of course, critics on the right object to this kind of teaching. Lynne Cheney, wife of the Vice President and former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said in a 2001 speech that those who argue that 9/11 shows we need to learn more about the rest of the world were blaming America's "failure to understand Islam" for the attacks. Dinesh D'Souza made a similar argument in his 2002 book What's So Great About America, and William Bennett, in his 2002 book Why We Fight, spoke out against historians who "weaken the country's resolve." Foner rejects these arguments. He insists, in an article about the problems and opportunities in teaching 9/11, that "Explanation is not a justification for murder, criticism is not equivalent to treason, and offering a historical analysis of evil is not the same thing as consorting with evil." If Finn and Ravitch really support teaching about 9/11 that isn't "simplified and sanitized," conceding the validity of those points would be a good place to start. (Emphasis mine.)


"Explanation is not justification." Perfectly stated. Everyone who tried to talk about why 9-11 happened and get beyond the obvious explanation that evil people hate us should remember this point. There is no doubt that the reasons why terrorists struck us are far more nuanced than the Right will admit. We need to understand their reasoning. Remember Sun Tzu's eternally sound advice in the Art of War: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." You've got to know what they're thinking to beat them.And let their be no mistake, we can't afford not to.

The article continues:

Whatever the merits of Foner's argument, problems with the teaching of 9/11 aren't likely to be resolved soon. Many high school students won't see any of the new texts because their schools are still using old books. Then there's the impact of Bush's No Child Left Behind Act: It requires standards and testing, and since teachers teach to the test, it's unclear how much 9/11 teaching there will be. In California, for example, the standards haven't been revised since 9/11, so "there's no specific standards that reflect it even happened," says Adam Wemmer, who teaches at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove.

This is very sad because there can be no doubt that students from 6th grade up -- and some who are younger -- will have distinct memories of that awful day. They need to talk about it. They need to begin to understand it and the complex situations that led up to it. Unfortunately, terrorists aren't going away any time soon.


Advocate Weekly

I'm advocating for the Advocate Weekly. Pithy, huh? It's late and I'm tired. But if it's not late when you're reading this and you're not tired, check out the indomitable Joe Thomas's Advocate Weekly. He's put together links to the best posts of the week from all of the progressive education blogs he could find.

As always, good work, Joe.

Unnatural disasters

From the always funny Borowitz Report:

BUSH DETERMINED TO PLAN NEXT CATASTROPHE

Will Be ‘Catastrophic Success,’ Says President

In a nationally televised address last night, President George W. Bush said that Hurricane Katrina had taken him by surprise but promised the American people, “As long as I sit in this chair, all future catastrophes will be planned by me.”

Attempting to reassure the country that he had a firm hand on the ship of state, the president said, “If there is going to be a tremendous disaster that impacts thousands or millions of American lives, then it is going to happen on my schedule and on my terms.”


The next catastrophe to happen on his schedule very well could be vouchers. Newspapers in all parts of the country are covering how they're pushing vouchers like crazy right now. It's a new disaster in the making-- a very unnatural disaster.

Which leads to another Borowitz story:

EXPERTS CALL BUSH PRESIDENCY WORST DISASTER IN NATION’S HISTORY

Cost of Damage Estimated In The Zillions

Four and a half years after he was first sworn in as president, experts in the field of disaster assessment today called the presidency of George W. Bush the worst disaster in the history of the United States of America.

The sober assessment came from the University of Minnesota’s Enormous Disaster Institute, which studies and attempts to quantify colossal disasters, both natural and manmade.

Dr. Lorraine Cresser, who heads the Institute, said that the University of Minnesota experts decided to place the current administration at the top of the nation’s list of huge disasters after assessing the damage the White House has caused over the past four and a half years, both at home and abroad.

“After taking a good look at the wreckage the Bush presidency has created, we would estimate the cost of the damage at somewhere in the mid to high zillions,” Dr. Cresser said.


How many education dollars will be added to the zillions...?
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