The monumental moronity of our governmental leaders never fails to amaze me. Our government, on every level, just has this uncanny knack for coming up with entirely stupid and useless ways of measuring and rewarding performance. What is it about people given administrative power without having earned it through performance or personal risk, who have instead had it granted to them by popular vote or by appointment? Why do they continually show their complete lack of understanding of how stuff works, or should be made to work? Wait... could it be because they have a complete lack of understanding of how stuff works? Hmmm...
So this one caught my ear this morning on the news. Several of our Oregon public schools have been branded with the title of "persistently dangerous schools." It seems some of our fearless leaders got together one day and decided that people have a right to know what schools are among the most dangerous. Fair enough, I suppose, since I'm a parent of six (yes, all mine, all my wife's), and I'd like to know how dangerous my kids' schools are. But get a load of how our esteemed leaders think is the best way to gauge danger: If a school expels more than one percent of its students for violence related reasons, that school is now dangerous.
Now listen, people, while I shout: IF YOU'RE NOT LAUGHING BY NOW, YOU HAVEN'T THOUGHT IT THROUGH!
What's the best way to gauge the purity of water? I know... whichever tanks have had the most impurities removed must be the most contaminated, right?
What's the best way to gauge the lowest ultra-violet light source? I know... whichever beam of light has passed through the filter that removes the most UV must still contain the most UV, right?
What's the best way to gauge which refrigerator contains the freshest food? I know... whichever fridge has had the most bad food removed must be the one with the most bad food in it, right?
See the logic here? No? That's because there IS NONE? With this kind of metric in place for our schools to set their goals and measure their performance, who comes out on top? You guessed it: The schools that do nothing about violence among students can proudly point to their spotless expulsion record, smile from ear to deaf ear, and say, "See? No violence problems here." And what about the schools that get serious about ridding themselves of violent students? Well, they, of course get the black mark. "This is a really great incentive program," said the stooge to the savant.
I am reminded of another great governmental figure of merit used by the U.S. Forest Service. You'll love this one. Somewhere in America, in some air-conditioned government office, far removed from the front lines of the fire, some very important fearless appointees with letters behind their names once decided that the best way to measure the effectiveness of a fire-fighting program is by "cost per acre burned." I'll just let you chew on that one for a while. Comments, please...