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Comment Archives: stories: News: Cover Story

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Transom, I think your apples and oranges analogy is completely appropriate. We cannot keep throwing apples into the orange crate and expect them to become oranges. The standards for getting an Academy appointment may vary depending on whether you are a direct entry or come through the Prep School, but the requirments to remain at the Academy are the same for everyone. If the Academy can't hold every person it accepts to the same standard, it has lost sight of its purpose. For now, it appears to have enough institutional integrity remaining to hold Cadets to one academic, military, athletic and honor standard. But it also appears to have turned a blind eye on the process that decides which young men and women will gain an appoinment in the first place. The financial cost of trying to turn an apple into an orange during one year at the Prep School is almost insignificant compared to what it costs when that person, who was never qualified in the first place, implodes during his first two years at the Academy. What in the world has the Academy gained by setting him up to fail? Yet, almost 50% of the kids who enter the Prep School go down that path. Forget the finances, let's just look at wisdom of the process. If maintaining the status quo of what is described in this article is really the best we can do, than it is time to not only shut the Prep School down, but USAFA as well.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Anothergrad on 11/18/2013 at 8:39 AM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Anothergrad, three points, and then I'm off this thread:

1) I can't speak to what efforts USAFA senior staff have taken to reach out to the grad community with a candid, accurate assessment of Prep School grads' performance. I do know that for every reunion there's a briefing held by senior staff, and questions from the audience are welcome, either in that public forum or afterward, one-on-one. Failing that venue, there's always public affairs, and their contact info should be readily found on USAFA's website.

2) Since I know USAFA has guidelines but no strict requirements for admission, it actually does not surprise me that the Prep School is in the same boat. In fact, I have heard there is significant overlap in composite academic scores between students selected to go to the Prep School and students selected to go directly to USAFA from high school. So to compare the average Prep School grad's performance and incidence of honor probations to those of the average cadet who came directly to USAFA from high school is kind of comparing apples to oranges.

If data were to be presented comparing academic performance and incidence of honor probations between Prep School grads and students entering USAFA directly from high school who had comparable composite academic scores, and if the Prep School grads' performance were shown to be worse across the board than comparable cadets who went directly to USAFA (ie same composite academic scores), then I would agree the Prep School has some problems that need to be addressed. However, until and unless such data is presented, I would be wary of drawing too many conclusions from an article that presents only one side of the story such as this one.

3) One last comment on budget: although the overall budget figure may be correct, it is possible some creative math employed to arrive at misleadingly high cost per candidate. As an example, let's say that in 1 week a family of 5 (mom, dad, and 3 kids) spent $150 on groceries, $100 on the monthly cable/internet/phone bill, and $100 for the rest of the month's utilities. How much did it cost to house and feed 1 child for 1 week?

You might be inclined to say $450, but that would hardly be accurate because $200 was spent on monthly costs, not weekly costs, and because the child probably didn't eat all $150 in groceries.

That is all. Happy life, everyone!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Transom on 11/17/2013 at 5:43 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Transom, fair points. I'll respond by answering your last point first. Have USAFA's leaders made an effort to reach out to grads with a candid assessment of some of the problems highlighted in this article? Before reading this article, were you aware that the Prep School no longer has a GPA requirement for graduating from the Prep School? That its students have no minimum standardized test score threshold, or military performance score? Did you know that 45% of each incoming Prep School class are recruited athletes, while less than 25% are prior enlisted, but that recruited athletes have a much higher attrition rate than any other demographic brought into the Prep School? My point is, how does a grad reach out to USAFA leadership directly and in private if he isn't even aware such problems exist? I know these problems weren't brought up at my last reunion. I haven't seen them in Checkpoints. I'd prefer not to find out about them in a free newspaper. But that's where we are.
As far as the Prep School budget is concerned, you're right. I am guessing that their 2013 budget is more than their 2005 budget. But according to the article, the size of their student body hasn't changed since 2005 (the Cadet Wing is on track to shrink by 10%), and it doesn't appear the staff size is much smaller either. Is it possible the current Prep School budget is less than it's budget in 2005? I guess, but given the laws of basic economics over the last decade, I don't know how you could shrink the budget significantly without reducing students and faculty, or the length of the school. Care and feeding of 240 kids hasn't gotten cheaper in the last 10 years.
Finally, if Academy leaders have actually tried to improve the performance of Prep School grads in recent years, I would actually be more dismayed than I am now, because given the stats provided in this article and its accompanying articles, several things have gotten worse. Read the three paragraphs preceding the section titled "No Requirements" and then read the no requirements section. Things are not improving. You can't blame the current Supt. She just showed up. And it looks like the current Prep School commander is not only aware there's a problem, but has started moving the curve in the other direction. But my original questions still stand. Is this really the best we can do? How did we get here? With drawdowns the norm across the Air Force, how is it the Prep School remains the same size despite declines in the performance of its graduates in recent years? What is its real purpose? The article says the current class is 22% prior enlisted, 43% minority, and 45% recruited athlete. What does that say about our priorities?

Posted by Anothergrad on 11/17/2013 at 10:16 AM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

The focus on football has become so great that the AFA just changed their primary mission from "developing leaders of character" to "producing lieutenants for the AF." Look at the usafa homepage for that in the upper left corner. If we're just producing officers what makes this place any different than any other school out there?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by ben kenobi on 11/17/2013 at 9:04 AM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Anothergrad, I'm not disputing the 2005 audit report. What I am saying is that there is no data quoted in the article to support the contention that the cost per student and other pieces of information reported in the 2005 report have either not changed or gotten worse, as you contend.

As a grad, I'm sure you're aware that, like the rest of the federal government, USAFA has experienced budget cuts. What makes you think this is not also true for the Prep School? Further, what data specifically supports your contention that no attempts have been made by USAFA to improve the areas called out in the 2005 report?

You are mixing facts reported in previous years with supposition about what may be happening now, I'm assuming because there are no statistics provided in this article to refute your suppositions (which does not mean they don't exist, and actually gets to the point I was originally trying to make).

I find it really interesting that some grads, rather than trying to support USAFA leadership in the challenges they face by approaching them directly and in private in a constructive manner, feel it is more effective to attack USAFA leadership publicly in forums like this one.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Transom on 11/17/2013 at 9:01 AM

Re: “Mormon Church abandons its crusade against gay marriage

It is important to remember that the word "Marriage" refers only to the union between a man and woman. Saying gay marriage is a oxymoron. Call it something else. maybe legal union, binding partnership, anything other than marriage. That word has already been taken.

1 like, 5 dislikes
Posted by farmrdave on 11/17/2013 at 8:00 AM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

The Air Force would be better just paying all of the preppies to go to a year of junior college or a state school to improve their chances at success at USAFA. Of course, that wouldn't really help the football and basketball teams red-shirt student-athletes and train them with another year of playing experience, so one has to believe that sports is the primary driver for the P-school.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by BirdManBlue on 11/16/2013 at 10:02 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

The article lists the cost per Prep School graduate at $93,800. It says that number comes from an Air Force audit published in 2005 looking at data from 2002 and 2003. I share your willingness to doubt the accuracy of things I read in the media, but the number and the attributed source seem pretty specific. And unfortunately, those numbers are from a decade ago. Nothing in the military seems to get less expensive over time, and I would be willing to guess that the cost per Prep School student is higher now than what was published in 2005. As for the graduation rates, the numbers listed in this article are consistant with historical numbers I've read in other places. Roughly 25% who enter the Prep School don't make it to USAFA, and another 25% who do don't graduate from USAFA. What surprised me are the percentages of Prep School graduates involved in honor offenses and other problems at USAFA. I would think the percentages would be LOWER than direct entry cadets. Not higher. Regardless of the specific cost per Prep School graduate, shouldn't a year of exposure to USAFA military and honor standards give them an advantage over their direct entry peers? If this has been an known problem since at least 2005, what exactly is being done to make positive changes? Is there a better solution? Even if this article is only mostly accurate, I can't believe USAFA can't do better. Is it even trying?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Anothergrad on 11/16/2013 at 9:15 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Anothergrad, I'd be inclined to say you might have a point if I knew for sure that the cost per student, graduation rates etc quoted in the article are correct. I'm willing to bet they are not. I'm also inclined to believe maybe there's some broad over-generalizing here.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Transom on 11/16/2013 at 6:16 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

The AFA has lost the target and muddied the mission of the prep school and the scope of intercollegiate athletics.

The fact that ~170 of the entering class of 1100 cadets came from the prep school is not a problem, but the fact that nearly 50% of those cadets are athletes is disproportionate to the composition of the cadet wing. This gives an appearance of using the prep school to "redshirt" athletes, not promoting diversity.

Currently around 20%-25% of cadets participate in D-1 athletic programs. This commits nearly 1,000 cadets to these activities. This is a huge cost in personnel and resources. I did not realize the level of committing to D-1 athletic programs compared to other universities. Why does the AFA have 26 sports when UT has on 20? Cadets can get this leadership experience through military and club activities.

The AFA should focus on commissioning officers, not promoting athletes.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by John Schroeder on 11/15/2013 at 9:10 AM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

Gen Johnson, you've got a problem here. The Prep School is not a success story. There has got to be a more efficient way of meeting diversity quotas at USAFA than paying $12.6 million per year for students with a 50% washout rate. Are USAFA athletics really worth cashing in the integrity of the Air Force Academy by maintaining an admissions backdoor for recruited athletes who have almost no chance of graduating? If the data in this story is accurate, Academy leaders have been practicing willful negligence with the human and financial resources American taxpayers have trusted them with. It is time to clean house.

6 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Anothergrad on 11/14/2013 at 8:31 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

More and more the Academy seems to be losing sight of its primary mission; to accept the best qualified applicants, then train and graduate them to become good Air Force officers. The AF Academy is not about football, but based upon the amount of athletes being groomed through the prep school you would think it is. The Air Force needs to get back to putting 100 percent prior enlisted through the prep school. They, at least, have earned the right to be there.

15 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Neil Talbott on 11/13/2013 at 2:41 PM

Re: “The Air Force Academy’s committed to its academic booster program. But at what cost?

A good question to ask might be: for all of the football recruits brought into the prep school in 2009--ultimately for the USAFA class of 2014--how many are on the roster and how many are still cadets in good standing. That might inform the overall return-on-investment question for both the P-school and the D-I football program.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by BirdManBlue on 11/13/2013 at 8:47 AM

Re: “The tick and the time bomb

In response to the comment by "Dusk" on 8/23/2013:
I am a nurse who is amidst my own health battle and struggling for answers toward a multitude of crippling symptoms as well. After reading your post, I strongly urge you to get tested for Chagas disease. The bugs you described sound like the Reduviid bug that dwell in areas that you were working and can easily be mistaken for ticks. They transmit the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes the disease. A blood test can screen for it. I hope this helps and prayers go out to you and all!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by namaste316 on 11/09/2013 at 10:40 AM

Re: “I want justice, too

I worked for Thomas Moore for a year at FT. Carson at Waller Gym. Thomas is truely a great man. I was stationed at Ft. Carson as a soldier with 2/3 Cav and was assigned to the gym for a year 2003-2004. I have been over his house on several occasions. His wife would make me food for him to bring for me. He has a soon but also would have foster children as well. I also worked with him and for him at his second job at the commissary. There was times when we sat on the steps of the gym and talked. He told me stories about the past. His experiences in Vietnam and stories about his brother and other relatives when growing up. I could see the determination in his eyes to find justice. I will never forget that year that I worked with him and the times we had.

Posted by Michael Kweder on 11/01/2013 at 10:24 PM

Re: “Tower of low power

If Brett Reese is not an out-and-out racist, he is a sad example of a gullible dupe.

The false charge of "sexual deviate" made against the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., originated in FBI headquarters as part of a secret operation named Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Under COINTELPRO, Dr. King was one of many civil rights leaders placed under illegal surveillance. When this did not yield any evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI used another COINTELPRO tactic, as described in Wikipedia: "...smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media..."

When COINTELPRO was exposed in 1971, the files on Dr. King were sealed to protect the FBI--not Dr. King or his family. All the documents the FBI had forged to smear Dr. King had already been disseminated to journalists as part of the campaign. The only remaining secrets were those detailing the FBI's patently illegal operations, which if made public would have left the FBI open to a myriad of lawsuits.

Some time after the files were sealed racists took advantage of the situation to revive the false charge against Dr. King, arguing that the files were sealed to protect his reputation and substituting lurid innuendo for actual evidence.

This is not the first time this racist propaganda has surfaced in Colorado Springs. Former El Paso County Commissioner Betty Beedy also cited it once in opposing the public holiday honoring Dr. King.

It is not enough to just "talk about the truth." Sometimes you need to investigate to learn the truth.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Mr. K-- on 10/12/2013 at 4:58 PM

Re: “Tower of low power

Well Stacy, probably once or twice a month I see a report about the FCC shutting down some id10t with a power amp on their CB, so it is just a matter of time before they get to you.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dave H on 10/10/2013 at 12:27 PM

Re: “Tower of low power

Is this the same FCC that still hasn't caught me transmitting 80w on my CB radio when the law says I am only supposed to be at 4 or less? They are doing a great job.

1 like, 5 dislikes
Posted by Stacy in Woodland Park on 10/09/2013 at 2:25 PM

Re: “Tower of low power

Low power FM has been allowed by the FCC for a long time. I can remember having one at our high school several decades ago and even some drive-in movie theaters using low power FM. What the change in 2000 did was to change the categories of LPFM stations and who had to get a license vs who did not. IIRC it used to be anyone with 1/4 watt or less ERP and antenna no more than 20 ft above ground did not require a license, but had to operate on a non-interference basis and could face fines if interference was proven. The 2000 law defined license classes L10 of up to 10 watts and L100 of up to 100 watts and unlicenced was limited to about 1/100th of a watt.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dave H on 10/09/2013 at 12:39 PM

Re: “The Tesla Files

I thoroughly enjoyed this article! The historical marker in Colorado Springs gives such little info---do you happen to know who placed the marker? Hooray for at least this recognition!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Sue Powers on 10/08/2013 at 5:25 PM

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