ipating in athletics or other extracurricularrnactivities. To her credit, boardrnmember McFerren deemed the currentrnstandard—at least a eumulatie “D” averagernbefore the start of the academicrnquarter—insufficient to varrant a ])upirsrnparticipation. Under the terms of herrnproposal, this cumulative standard wouldrnbe raised one letter-grade, to a “C” average,rnand the student’s performance inrneach class would be monitored weeklyrnduring the quarter of participation. Thernstudent’s eligibility for participation inrnthe activities of the subsequent weekrn(team meetings, practices, and games)rnwould be contingent upon the maintenancernof a “C” in each class. Below averagernperformance in any subject, accordingrnto her plan, would require the studentrnto sit it out until these minimum standardsrnwere onec again met.rnPretty reasonable, I think. The morernbenighted members of the board, however,rnthought otherwise. Despite overwhelmingrnpublic and parental acceptance,rnthe board voted instead tornmaintain the lowest possible standardsrnallowed by the state. In an attempt to jettisonrnacademic principle for the morernpopular cargo of equity, board memberrnGrosshandler served up this grammaticalrngem: “[Stricter standards] would not bernfair to students who genuinely try andrnwhose main reasons for attending schoolsrnwas [sic] to play sports.”rnThis refusal to implement higher standardsrnmerely reflects the wholesale shiftrnaway from objective, quantifiable measuresrnof student—and, by extension,rnteacher—performance, hi the absencernof such measures of their abilit’ and conduet,rnthe eduerats can issue rosv publicrnstatements that effcetivcK deny the realityrnof an incompetence that has becomernendemic to public education. Considerrnthe unremitting outcry from the OhiornEducation Association to the state mandaternrequiring all high-school students tornpass a standardized ninth-grade proficiencyrnexamination (PE) as a conditionrnof graduation. “Unfair,” “insensitive,”rn”racist,” it wailed. “Regressive,” itrnwhined. Indeed, it is unfair, regressive,rnand insensitive. It is unfair to employersrnseeking competent high school graduatesrnto have an applicant pool whoserncommunication and clerical skills arernscarcely beyond that of an eighth-grader.rnIt is unfair to colleges and universities,rnwhich must design and fund remedialrnway stations to elevate the mathematicalrnand grammatical competencv of thesernyoungsters to the 12th-grade level. It isrnregressive because it imposes upon thernmarket increased prices due to addedrnproduction costs in the form of trainingrnand reeducation of workers, which oftenrninvolve teaching tliem how to read.rnEinally, it is insensitive not only tornemployers, collegians, and consumersrnbut to the student population, which isrnreceiving the short end of the educationrnstick.rnYet to the eduerats, it is unfair becausernit demands accountability. Thernscandalously high number of studentsrnwho fail the PE on their first try can easilyrnbe blamed on incompetent instruction.rnThe inabilit of several thousandrnstudents to pass it after a second or thirdrnsitting can be blamed on poor curriculumrncontent and design. Educators usedrnto shift accountability for their patheticrninstruction through grade inflation andrnthe elimination of the “F” and all otherrnmarks indicating “failure.” If, in a classrnof 30 students, 25 received A’s and B’s,rnthe teacher must be prettv good. Put anrnapple on his desk and dole out part ofrnthat union-guaranteed annual pay increase.rnBut the PE cut him off on thernway to the bank. If those 25 studentsrnachieved marks of “B” or better in hisrnEnglish composition class, then presumablyrnthey should breeze through the verbalrnportion of the PE. But on average, 40rnpercent of these 25 did not. As a result,rnthe obvious question emerged: Howrncan a student receive an “A” in seniorrnEnglish and subsequently fail the verbalrnhalf of a ninth-grade proficienc’ test?rnBut he can if the school system lacksrnmoney, said the education establishment.rnEnlisting their conventional justificationrnfor any problem plaguing theirrnrealm, they enlightened us to the factrnthat such pathetic test results were thernproduct not of a lack of instruction, butrnof a lack of resources, most of them financial.rnWhat followed was a torrent ofrnemergenev funding initiatixes and ballotrnmeasures designed to raise the cash necessaryrnto bolster up the PE scores.rnOvernight, signboards reading “Eey orrnArmageddon … ^bu Decide!” sproutedrnon the lawn of exerv teacher in the district,rnfollowed closeK h appeals to “Savernthe Kids.” Yet the saved the best forrnlast. In what will long be remembered asrnthe most outrageous piece of showmanshiprnin the history of public education,rnthose Ohio school districts boasting thernpoorest performance on the PE filedrnsuit, with the assistance of the farcical adrnhoc Coalition for Equity and Adequacyrnin School Funding (CEASF), against thernstate of Ohio for, among other things,rnthe “necessary [money] to provide studentsrn[of these districts] academic realitiesrnwhich [sic] translate more readilyrnwith those of students from districtsrnfacing less challenges.”rnSuch solicitations, of course, are nothingrnnew. Over the past four decades,rneduerats have perfidiously convincedrnAmerican parents and legislators that anyrnhiccup in public education could berncured with additional funding. Fromrn1950-1989, despite hundreds of studiesrnshowing absolutely no correlation betweenrnspending and educational achievement,rnaverage per-pupil expendituresrnrose in real terms from $1,333 to $4,931.rnThis fourfold increase in real spending,rnhowever, has brought no academic improvement,rnbut significant decline. Indeed,rnfrom 1963 to 1990, combined SATrnscores fell on average 95 points from 980rnto 885. Over this same period, statisticiansrnhave labored furiously to build subfloorrnafter subfloor to accommodaternAmerican students in the academic performancernhouse of industrialized nations.rnIn an international study conducted lastrnyear by the Carnegie Foundation for thernAdvancement of Teaching, only 20 percentrnof American college teachers surveyedrnfelt that American schools had adequatelyrnprepared college enrollees inrnwriting and speaking skills, while a merern15 percent saw adequate preparation inrnmath and quantitative reasoning, resultsrnwhich placed Americans last among thernHeld of 14 countries. Curiously, acrossrnthe street in the financial house of industrializedrnnations, where one’s digs arernbased on the average per-pupil expenditurernfor education, the American kidsrnare in the penthouse and swimming onrnthe roof.rnFortunately, such evidence does notrnappear to have been wasted on the voters,rnwhose patience with the “inadequaternfunding” argument is wearing thin.rnSince November 1993, Ohio voters havernrejected eight of the ten balloted schoolrntax le’ies, increases, or renewals—somernfailing b’ as much as 40 percentagernpoints. This response is tantamount torna referendum against throwing goodrnmoney after bad or rewarding nonperformance.rnCasting further light on thisrnshifting sentiment has been an exponentialrnincrease in the incidence ofrn”bright flight”—the transfer of the mostrnintelligent (and often the most mon-rn4n/CHRONICLESrnrnrn