Thursday, November 7, 2013

Science Fair Projects

Ever get tired of those papier mâché volcanoes masquerading as real science of some sort. Well some folks never do.

Seems we have yet another presentation of what to date is a non-existent report on the feasibility of a School System for Dunwoody. Same talker. Same alleged report. But now the numbers in the report need jiggering and since this is political jiggerers are not in short supply. Previously the delay had been because the City of Dunwoody funded the effort and it was therefore up to the City to publish. What is unexplained is just why a junior rep is large and in charge with Citizen of Dunwoody Tax Dollars and acting as gatekeeper to a report we're paying for.

While still beating the same "we can afford our own schools drum" the State Rep is now quoted as saying "I really did not want to deliver any report that was going to be picked apart." Given he'd surely prefer we simply take his word for it without any report whatsoever that statement is credible in the extreme.

And he has a good point.

The report will be picked apart based on minutia like grammar, minor contradictions and omissions because that is largely what will be made available in the report itself and that report is likely all we shall see for our money. The omissions are expected to be the largest and most egregious of the shortcomings and are all but guaranteed to include:

  • lack of raw data sets
  • lack of data analysis tools (spreadsheets, databases, etc.)
  • lack of defined methodology adequate to validate the analysis
  • lack of detailed research assumptions
  • lack of editorial and research guidance--which areas require detailed analysis and which do not
  • lack of meeting agenda and minutes
  • lack of detailed meeting notes from researchers and other attendees

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to conclude that a report spearheaded by a politician will be lacking with regards to scientific rigor. If this report is published on paper then it may well be the case that it is best used as raw materials for yet another volcano.

And much like the CVI studies before it this one is also funded to a given conclusion--that Dunwoody deserves to break away from DCSD and set up its own schools. Given the reasonable assumption this effort is being done on behalf of the City (we are paying for it aren't we?) and that the Mayor has recently been quoted as saying
"One thing I've learned as mayor is to not trust experts. I've seen too much bad testimony in court by hired experts. As a result I have to go on my own observation."
we are again left to ponder whether this is not just a waste of paper but also a frivolous waste of our tax dollars. Seems all we really need to do is ask a politician.