Sunday, March 11, 2007

False Metrics

. . . it would be hard to imagine . . . . communitarian values emerging from a similar discussion [among community leaders] in San Antonio, or in most other American cities, 40 or 50 years ago, when the trend of thinking was just the opposite.

A key to understanding the change might be what one participant wrote about the schools: “Stop supporting false metrics in education.”

The comment was evidently directed against the schools' enslavement to TAKS — the standardized, multiple-choice Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, which several participants condemned by name, for good reason.

In my view, false metrics dominated American thinking in the two generations after World War II, right up to the present.

The good was what could be measured or counted objectively — dollars, square feet, sales, test scores, the number of vehicles per hour that could flee the city — to the sacrifice of human meaning or intrinsic value.

The idea of a community was swamped by an emphasis on the insular family, its insular house and its insular cars — the more cars, the bigger the house the better, because the primary function of the family was to circulate dollars.

—Mike Greenberg, Leaders’ ‘moral vision’ tied to a physical sense of community, San Antonio Express-News, March 10, 2007

See also Cary Clack.


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