Thursday, October 16, 2008

Commentary by Henry the Cat

Hi Folks, Henry the Cat here. The fat man went
to bed early tonight, so I sat down at the computer to check my portfolio and catch up on the news.

Well, for those of you who may not know, the fat man works for Baylor University. And once again, Baylor is in the news. And it's not good news. Bad press. Us cats call it "befouled litter". Don't worry, there have been no more murders on the basketball team, nor have they changed presidents again. This time it's because someone decided it was a good idea to pay students, already accepted and enrolled in the university, to retake the SAT. If they improved their score by 50 points or more, they got a bonus.

Why would Baylor do this, you ask? Because it inflates the statistics used by US News and World Report when they compile their annual ranking of universities, and Baylor is drooling like a dog to increase its ranking.

Now, I'm just a cat, and the fat man would probably not like it if he knew I was writing this, because he would worry about biting the proverbial hand that feeds him. But lest you misunderstand my criticism, please understand that I don't think they did anything wrong. Short sighted, maybe.

We shouldn't be shocked by this. It is not certainly not criminal, and I say it is not even unethical! Instead, it is a clever, though unwise, attempt to manipulate an ARBITRARY standard imposed by US News and World Report. It is actually sad that Baylor cares too much about the rankings. They are like an insecure high school girl wearing rediculous green lipstick because it's what the "popular" girls wear. Never mind it makes them look like idiots.

I am all in favor of them increasing the quality of students, whether feline or human, and for them increasing the quality of the faculty (unless that involves replacing my human). I am even in favor of Baylor increasing its research reputation and expanding the frontiers of knowledge itself. But making the goal to be on someone else's list is reminiscent of high school popularity contests. Baylor should decide who Baylor wants to be, and strive to achieve THAT. Otherwise they're just wearing green lipstick. PPPTTH! I cast my used litter towards that idea.

The problem, I believe, lies with US News' rankings themselves. Why does US News even compile these rankings? Is it from some altruistic motive to improve our education as a nation? Or is it to sell magazines? Can we really judge the quality of a university using the metrics of research dollars obtained or average SAT scores? Are not factors such as faculty morale and the institutional valuation of quality teaching more important than standardized test scores? These things can't be measured. But if you can't measure it, you can't rank it in a magazine!
I'm getting too wound up about this. I'm going to go play with my catnip mousy.

1 comment:

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

I like the throwing used cat litter idea - now that we have a dog...maybe there ARE other uses...hmmm...let me mull over that.