If it weren’t completely fucking over at least 2,400 low-income high-school students, this would be among the funniest things yet out of Trump’s First 100 Days Of Rage: Under America’s least literate president, the Education Department has rejected grant applications from at least 40 colleges and other organizations for the Upward Bound program, which provides poor kids — many of them members of minority groups — with tutoring and counseling to give them a better chance at college. Why? Because, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, the grant applications ran “afoul of rules on mandatory double-spacing rules, use of the wrong font, or other minor technical glitches.”
Yes, this is the same Education Department that was was mocked on social media in February for sending out a tweet misspelling the name of educator and NAACP founder W.E.B. Du Bois (they spelled it “DeBois”), and then misspelling “apologies” in its later correction: “Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.” (The department has since outsourced its social media to Ralph the Wonder Llama at great expense.) So maybe the move to punish poor kids for schools’ minor formatting errors is a passive-aggressive way for the Education Department to lash out. “You want nitpicking? We’ll show you NITPICKING!”
Says the Chronicle:
The affected colleges, whose programs serve at least 2,400 low-income students, and the members of Congress who represent them are furious, especially because their appeals to the department for reconsideration have so far been met with little sympathy or indication of any sort of resolution.
The program director for Upward Bound at [Wittenberg University in Ohio], Eddie L. Chambers, said he did have a conversation with Linda Byrd-Johnson, acting deputy assistant secretary for higher-education programs. It was “gracious,” said Mr. Chambers, who has overseen the Wittenberg program for 40 of its 50 years. “But in the end, she told me, ‘A rule is a rule.’ She told me, ‘Eddie, I too have to abide by the rules.’”
Rules are rules. What do you want, anarchy? Are you an anarchist, Mr. Chambers? Are you? If the president has to follow rules, then so do… OK, bad example. But rules matter.
Oh, and also, speaking of details, the Education Department’s Linda E. Byrd-Johnson is a completely different person from famous presidential daughter Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, who spells her first name differently and does not have a hyphen in her name. Maybe being mistaken for the other woman with the similar name is at the root of all this. RULES MATTER, YOU IDIOTS, AND YOU WILL RUE THE DAY YOU FUCKED WITH LINDA BYRD-JOHNSON WITH AN “I” AND A HYPHEN! Also, don’t call her “Liz!”
So, what outrageous violation of the rules did Wittenberg University commit? Failure to include accurate data on its student population, or inadequate information on goals and procedures? Oh, dear. Far, FAR worse. We hope you are sitting down, Gentle Reader:
Wittenberg’s error, according to the March 22 letter it received from Ms. Byrd-Johnson: In its section on its budget, it apparently violated the double-spacing rule requiring “no more than three lines per vertical inch,” including text in charts and tables.
See here, Mr. Chambers, if you think you can get away with just double-spacing your document all willy-nilly, in direct violation of the rules, then maybe instead of an institution of higher education, you should be running scam real estate seminars… again, maybe not the best example, but you see what we’re getting at.
Chambers, no doubt in a state of complete disbelief, told the Chronicle, “It’s more about format than it is about content,” a few days after telling the students that funding for Wittenberg’s Upward Bound program would run out May 31. He said the college had applied for $2.5 million to run the program for five years, and is now attempting to find other funding options. At the very least, Wittenberg hopes to salvage a summer bridge program for 10 high-school seniors who’ll live on campus and take first-year-level college classes with extra support to help them get accustomed to some of the challenges they’ll face when they really start college. (Yr Dok Zoom taught in a similar program for several years during grad school at the University of Arizona, and they’re terrific. Needless to say, they need to be eliminated.)
In another example from the Chronicle story, the University of Maine at Presque Isle had two grant applications rejected, leaving 129 students from 16 high schools shit out of luck. The offense this time was even more heinous:
Two infographics inserted in each of its applications included type with one-and-half-line spacing, rather than double-spacing.
It was unclear as of press time whether the spacing crime could be attributed to guys named D-Money, Smoothie, or Shifty, but we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if, after having set the graphic spacing all wrong, they then impregnated some white girls and fled the state.
Unlike Eddie Chambers, the unrepentant spacing anarchist at Wittenberg, UM Presque Isle’s Darylene Cote, who runs the school’s federal college-access programs, at least took some personal responsibility, telling the Chronicle (presumably between guilt-ridden sobs), “I should have seen it […] Maybe I should have sat there with a ruler.”
Even so, Cote was all too quick to shift the blame for her failings. Rather than committing ritual hara-kiri, as a good administrator might,
Ms. Cote said denying the opportunity for needy students to receive academic advising, go on college visits, and receive advice on how to save for college seems like a harsh punishment for her mistake. The university has run Upward Bound programs since 1980. Even if the department just blacked out the infographics and ignored them as part of the application, she said she thinks the grants would score well under the department’s formula.
Well, yeah, maybe Big Government in the past would let slackers just throw margins and line spacings wildly all over the place, but this is the Trump Era, the era of Law and Order, and if the scofflaw bureaucrats of Maine want that sweet money from Uncle Sugar, they’d better get out their rulers. Oh, sure, the congressional delegation from Maine is asking the Department of Education to overlook all this blatant disregard for order, but the era of “common sense” and lax enforcement is over, you TAKERS!!!!
In other news, the Trump Inaugural Committee took in over $100 million from god only knows who, and didn’t properly record donors’ names, addresses, citizenship status, or other information required under federal campaign law, and no one really knows where the unspent money ended up. One $400,000 donation was attributed to a nonexistent person whose address was a vacant lot in New Jersey. The inaugural committee is only now acknowledging its records are full of errors, and promises to get everything sorted out, maybe.
But the spacing appears to be mostly OK.
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