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December 14, 2005



This article from the Ford Foundation provides a lot more background on the 10 Per Cent Law:
It does sound like a very interesting venture, worth at least some serious consideration.


Or Kinky Friedmann...

I don't think Islingtonian aversion to schemes to enable more people to get a tertiary education is simply crude elitism. There is a current meme among the beau monde that "If I had kids that age now, I wouldn't send them to college, I'd tell them to get a trade."

Nonsense of course, but it stems from the fact that the experience of graduates in the last 15-20 years has been different from that of their parents in ways that have led them to question the traditional middle class cursus honorum - not seriously, but in a conversational context.

Graduates today carry debt, those over 40 didn't. Not especially inconvenient debt, but probably a bit of a bugger if you live in London. Graduate unemployment is relatively high - trivial in the greater scheme of things but "this is not what we were formerly told". Light minded people hear anecdotes about electricians turning away work, and start to question the value of a first degree as a basic qualification.

The 10% law sounds brilliant, but many people actually associate Texas mainly with high rates of execution, systematic gerrymandering, and megachurch fundamentalism, all of which they have a right to regard with suspicion. If they've convinced themselves that they would have been better off climbing under sinks than attending lectures, they're unlikely to pay much attention to the upside.

Maynard Handley

To what extent is such a law simply window-dressing?
What I mean is, what do empirical studies (as opposed to ideology) show about the efficacy of such a law? I could imagine either
* the top 10% are essentially smart enough that this provides them with a useful opportunity OR
* 12 years of awful schooling have left these kids completely unprepared for college, and that the vast bulk of those that get in via this law, but which would not otherwise have made the cut never graduate.

My gut reaction to a law like this, given that this is the Texas GOP we are talking about, is that it's all about PR, not about actually improving schooling. These are, remember, the people that went on and on about the "Texas education miracle" under GWB, until, after the campaign, the "miracle" turned out to all be a lie. And these are people who are famed, throughout the US, for putting massive pressure on textbook publishers to write history, social science and similar subjects as the GOP sees it, rather than as unbiased academics see it.


Are you serious about Steve Earle!? have you heard "The Mountain" with the Del McCrory Band?!

He is not exactly my cup of tea all the time and is a bit too much bland US rock in some albums, but I give him big respect as an artist and musician. I have seen him live a few times - once on acoustic (guitar, banjo and mandolin) on his own, and then with the dukes (a full electric band). Great on both occasions. Sadly missed the tour with Del McCrory band (a mountain bluegrass band)/ If you see him live you realise how versatile and talented he is actually.

I can understand if you don't like his musical output - personally I am quite selective about which of his stuff I like - but I think he is definitely not over-rated.

Most Americans outside of Texas actually quite dislike Texans - they think they are brash, arrogant, boorish and full of themselves! they might have something in common with Islingtonians after all...!


there are one or two things going on in Texas education policy other than the 10% law ...

btw Chris you've mistyped your description of the 10% law or something. If Texas was only going for 10% of school-leavers going into university education that would be absolutely woeful; even Mississipi would set its sights a bit higher than that. The 10% law guarantees that if you are in the top 10%, you can go to the university of your choice within the Texas state system (which in practice means UT Austin). It would be possible to do something similar in the UK but you would have to mess around with it a bit as there is not quite enough space in Oxford and Cambridge.

In general, I would advise investing too many credibility pennies in a venture aimed at persuading the world that the overall policy framework of Texas is egalitarian.


(for what it's worth Sade and Roland Gift both live in Islington and I would back both of them against whatever dadrock C&W those two guys whose names I don't recognise have produced. Even Sting, another resident, is probably up there when you consider his body of work as a whole. Also, Milliband isn't from Islington; he's from my own borough, Camden, and if you try to play the naming bands game against Camden you're probably going to need bring a bigger team. Oop, hang on, doesn't Shane McGowan live in Islington these days, although if I was wearing expensive cowboy boots I certainly wouldn't let his mouth anywhere near them).


d-squared: it's not just the top 10% of school-leavers who get into the U.of Texas. it's just that someone in the top 10% at the worst school gets a place, however bad his overall grades. Only around half of places apparently are taken by those in the top 10% at their schools.
Man-in-black: when I said Steve Earle is over-rated, I meant over-rated by those who like him a lot. Relative to most singers, of course, he is under-rated.


I've met many Steve Earle fans, most who regard him as a mainstay rather than a god. Recommend seeing him live though, really.

I admit, in preference to Steve I am more into Wilco, Jay Farrar/Son Volt, Jim White, Uncle Tupelo, Ryan Adams (selectively) Gillian Welch and Willie Nelson myself amongst the live 'uns.


A 10% law in Britain would mean that people would register their kids in a dud school and arrange that they were actually educated by private tutors in the evening.


But isn't it 10% of all students, not just 10% of each school? who'd wanna sent their kids to a dud school!?

Chris Bertram

FWIW, I think the sadly under-rated Earle partly recorded Copperhead Road in Camden, and the Pogues play on it too.


... and the blessed Shane lives in Islington these days so the circle of music snobbery is made complete.

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