Normally I'm allergic to articles and books by Malcolm Gladwell... I'll make an exception here..
“In the early years, the thing that’s happening now would not have been imaginable,” Morse says. “This idea of using the rankings as a benchmark, college presidents setting a goal of ‘We’re going to rise in the U.S. News ranking,’ as proof of their management, or as proof that they’re a better school, that they’re a good president. That wasn’t on anybody’s radar. It was just for consumers.”
Over the years, Morse’s methodology has steadily evolved. In its current form, it relies on seven weighted variables:
1. Undergraduate academic reputation, 22.5 per cent
2. Graduation and freshman retention rates, 20 per cent
The process of achieving Latin proficiency was a combination of brutal hazing ordeal, practical training, initiation rite, and bonding experience. It was vaguely like Marine boot camp on Parris Island, only several years longer in duration. The male youth of some Amerindian tribes were required to dangle unflinching for long periods from flesh-hooks piercing their breasts before being admitted to the hunt. Today we are told, certain gangs of criminal youths require their candidates for admission to commit a murder. Such was the general vibe among Latin-learners. When they emerged proficient they were members of a select guild, an “in” group. The ability to toss off a Latin bon mot made you one of the chaps. In the 1840s a British military commander in India, Charles James Napier, is alleged to have informed his superiors of his successful pacification of the region of Sind with a one-word message: “Peccavi.”** You had to be one of the chaps to get it, but then they were all chaps, the battle of Waterloo having been won, after all, on the playing fields of Eton.
But only recently — and mostly in reliably conservative Kansas — has the term been used regularly and clearly as a political wedge. Education advocates in Kansas said they had heard it in conversations with state legislators (though few use it in public statements), in discussions about public schools on Facebook and on some conservative news sites.
The use of the term “government schools” is part of a broad education agenda that includes restraining costs. The far-right and libertarian wings of the Republican Party are pushing the state to loosen its laws to allow more charter schools. They oppose programs that offer free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches, believing that schools have become part of the “nanny state” — another politically charged term — and are usurping the role of parents.