Where are the Dancing Horses?

Jimmy Brown, made of stone
Charlie clown, no way home
Bring on the dancing horses
Headless and all alone
Shiver and say the words
Of every lie you’ve heard

First I’m gonna make it
Then I’m gonna break it
Till it falls apart
Hating all the faking
And shaking while I’m breaking
Your brittle heart

 Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses

With the close of 2014 and the conventional change of the calendar to 2015, people are partying, reflecting on 2014, or making predictions for 2015.  I’m not very good about such short-term predictions, so I will leave those to others. I’m not partying because of my role as a caregiver and an ongoing lack of sleep. It’s also not my style. I’ve already reflected on 2014 through stating 27 of my 95 grievances (don’t worry, I will keep the other 68 to myself). So instead, I will engage in a few guesses.

First, I think the first draft of PIRS is going to shake things up when it hits the street. I’m confident it will get released, if only in a fit of anger to say, “See, we told you we could do this!” However, the graduation rate metrics that will be derived from the National Student Loan Data System (which was designed for purposes specifically NOT like this) will cause a great gnashing of teeth and rethinking of what folks really mean when they say they want something better than IPEDS. My hunch is that they will not like these metrics much and institutional research offices across the country will spend August trying to duplicate the metrics and create new ones that presidents will claim to be “better.”

They will need only to look at SCHEVResearch to see examples of what is possible.

I think PIRS will also send a very strong message: “If you don’t like these metrics, give us better data.”

Conquistador your stallion stands
in need of company
and like some angel’s haloed brow
you reek of purity
I see your armour-plated breast
has long since lost its sheen
and in your death mask face
there are no signs which can be seen

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Procol Harum – Conquistador

SACS or another of the regional accreditors is going to do something that seems to be of unheard of: they will take action on an institution based on academic issues instead of merely fiscal issues. At least, that will appear to be the case for a few days. And it may even be a public institution. Too many lawmakers in Virginia have asked about the role of SACS in ensuring academic quality and been unimpressed and unsatisfied with the response.

 

Well you thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun

And the colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing
Sparkling waves are calling you to touch her white laced lips

Cream – Tales Of Brave Ulysses

2015 will not be the third consecutive year in which a private, nonprofit college closes. I think. There are several on my watch list though that I consider to be at-risk (Undergraduate only, fewer than 2000 students, first-year retention rate less than 60%). If I am wrong, and one does close, then I think we can formally declare that “a trend.” For the record, it was Virginia Intermont College that closed in 2014, and Saint Paul’s College that closed in 2013.

And throughout the year, we will see a lot of dancing ponies and dogs in tutus (disguised as technological solutions) as this will help draw attention away from the real issues.

Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear she couldn’t go on
Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew and then disappeared
The curtains flew and then he appeared
(Saying, “Don’t be afraid”)

Come on baby
(And she had no fear)
And she ran to him
(Then they started to fly)
They looked backward and said goodbye
(She had become like they are)
She had taken his hand
(She had become like they are)

Come on baby
(Don’t fear the reaper)

Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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