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.
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?
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?
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.
Brain Logic, Obama is the Commander in Chief of the DoD and is THE person in charge of ordering nuclear missile deployments you refer to in your scenario. No one can launch a nuclear weapon until Obama provides both the authorization and the codes required to do so. He is directly at the top of the chain of command of every single member of the US military. Introducing him into the discussion isn't muddying the waters. He is in charge of the waters. And as a side note, when he took his oath of office, he concluded it by saying, "so help me God".
As for Weinstein's purvue, he has declared himself at war with "a small subset of evangelical Christianity – about 12.6% of the American public, about 38 million Americans." One of his most recent lawsuits threats was against Michelle Bachmann. Based on his own words and actions, Weinstein's "withering field of fire" is a lot broader than the DoD.
As far as looking up things about Weinstein, I have very specifically encouraged people to do exactly that. I don't expect people to take my word for it. Becoming informed about a topic takes work. But just to give folks a bit of a headstart, here's the place I'd recommend starting... http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/me… You can read every interview Weinstein has ever given on his efforts. Interesting reading to say the least.
Finally, from my very first comments regarding this article, I have defended both Willoughby's and Weinstein's right to free speech. That was my initial point, and my final point.
Brain Logic, Barack Obama discusses his Christian faith and his faith in Jesus. Openly. On the record. In public. Is he proselytizing when he does that? If so, it might be time to file a lawsuit against him.
I believe Willoughby is a civilian. At least no military rank is mentioned. But even if he's military, he can still discuss his personal religious beliefs. And attend church services in uniform.
It is very clear on this website that people are very confused about what is legal in this country regarding religious expression. I've said it before and I'll say it again...if Willoughby violated a law with his email to Weinstein, than Weinstein has an easy lawsuit he might actually win on his hands. Does anyone (Mr K won't answer) believe Weinstein should file one?
Mr. K, you are trying to defend a man you obviously know very little about. You had to look up his comments about Dobson and Haggard? You are only aware of ONE lawsuit Weinstein has lost? Do yourself a favor. And don't ask me to do it for you. You obviously don't trust anything I say. Do a little work and dig into Weinstein's record. Do you know he is currently being sued by a retired military chaplain who he threatened to "beat the (*^* out of in an alley behind a Safeway"? Weinstein had already had his own lawsuit against the chaplain thrown out of court when it become obvious that he (Weinstein) had lied about the allegations he made against the chaplain. But again, don't ask me to do your homework. I already am aware of his background. That is why I have formed the opinion about him that I have. It's an educated opinion. One based on facts. I challenge you to do the same thing.
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