Major new cause of achievement discovered: studying

In a breakthrough discovery, researchers have identified a significant causal factor in educational achievement. It involves sitting one’s ass down at a table and opening books.

The problem of the underlying causes of educational achievement have stymied geneticists for years. Back in the Progressive Era, eugenicists attributed most of the variance in IQ, or intelligence quotient–a test designed to measure educational achievement–to a single Mendelian gene. Today, geneticists are just as obsessed with the genetic causes of IQ. After years of study, they have succeeded in spreading the effect out over several genes, while whittling the genetic basis down to under two percent of the variation. A recent study in Science magazine found that all known genetic variations combined explained 1.98% of the variation in achievement; the largest single effect of a genetic variant was 0.02%.

A different approach was taken by a researcher who prefers to be known simply as “Miss Perkins.” With her half-moon glasses, her hair done up in a tidy bun, and her sensible shoes, she is the picture of an elementary school teacher. Which she is. Collecting data over more than 20 years of teaching social studies to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Martin Luther Malcolm Kennedy Roosevelt Elementary and Middle School, in Slippery Rock, Missouri, she has found that studying (STUH-dee-ying) explains a whopping 60% of the variance in educational achievement–no matter whether it is measured in grade-point average, standardized test scores, or subjective evaluations.

Another 30% of the total variation can be attributed to parents teaching their kids to put their butts in the chair and keep them there, without videos, music, or cell phones to distract them. A further 8% was attributed to nutrition.

The results have rocked the biomedical world. “I’m literally stunned,” said Dick Dorkins, of the Society for the Prevention of Intelligent design, Teleology, Or Other Nonsense (SPITOON), a biological think tank in Tumwater, Washington. “I feel exactly like I did last week when I accidentally got TASERED at the end of a bar fight.”

Not all scientists are convinced by the results, which involve 573 children and 1,719,000,000,000 base pairs. Nicholas Spork, a genomicist at Kashkow University, best known for its discovery of the “Republican gene,” said that Perkins’s “one-size fits all” approach was a “pedagogical dinosaur.” He was pioneering a personalized education approach, he said, that would tailor standardized tests to an individual’s genome. He also said he had applied for a federal grant to buy fourteen new high-speed sequencers that would identify 2 trillion base pairs in 93 seconds. “It’s just a hunch of course,” Spork said with a conspiratorial wink, “but I have every confidence that, with enough venture capital, in ten years we can double the amount of variance explained by single-nucleotide polymorphisms” (or “snips”). That would bring the total to around 3 percent.

Meanwhile, Miss Perkins continues her study—and her students continue their studying. She teaches about 60 students a year, in two classes. Her most high-tech tools are a globe, in the corner, a whiteboard (without a projector), and a terrific set of dry-erase markers, ranging from deepest violet through the spectrum to cherry red. But that’s not all. “Over the summer, a parent donated me a set of grays and blacks,” she said proudly during a quiet moment in class. “They were expensive, but oh, this will help a great deal. Nothing’s too good for my kids. Derek! What do you think you’re doing? Sit down and be quiet this instant, or you’ll have extra homework!”




Kashkow logo3lgKashkow University announced today the initiation of an innovative new program of online education that it says will create an “unprecedented revenue stream for non-profit institutions of higher learning,” while streamlining the university staff.

The Kashkow scheme is called Massive Money-Making Opportunity: Opting Out Of Courses! (MMMOOOOC!). Under MMMOOOOC! PROGRAM, Kashkow would eliminate all classes. Instead, it would offer college credits and diplomas through a subscription service similar to the online movie and television service Netflix. The caliber of the degree purchased would be tied to the subscription level. For $29.99 per month, for example, one can receive credit for a full load of coursework that is “equivalent to a Duke University or Washington University in St. Louis,” according to the university. Johns Hopkins or Wesleyan-level coursework costs $69.99 per month, while a Premium membership (Harvard, Princeton, or Yale) can be purchased for $99.99 monthly. There is a three-month minimum contract, which enables one to purchase a complete course; an automatic renewal system allows one to “drop out” of taking the spring semester. The university will also offer a “Basic” membership: for $9.99 a month, students can pursue coursework toward the equivalent of a philosophy degree from the Delaware College of Textiles and Mines.

The new MMMOOOOCs! would be packed with information and essentially content-free. Subscribers would receive a full set of lecture notes, digests of reading materials, complete term papers (with bibliographies), and exam keys—everything needed to pass a course with a grade of A+ or higher. All exams and essays will of course be open-book, and students are encouraged to cut and paste from lecture materials in order to save time. This greatly increases the efficiency of the learning process, university spokesmen say.

Think of education like filling a bucket, said the former Kashkow Dean of Students, Prof. Tweed Pantsuit. In conventional teaching, the faucet is an old fashioned pump handle and the bucket is full of holes. The massively online course movement is a firehose that the student can turn on and off at will, while holding the bucket herself. The result is much more water hitting the bucket in less time—and as we learned in quantum mechanics (wasn’t it?) time is money. Prof. Pantsuit said more about the bucket model, but frankly it wasn’t printable.

The streamlining of courses into “courseware” will have a big impact on the university’s bottom line, according to a Kashkow spokeman. It will enable the university to trim the faculty salary and benefits budget from $75 million to $342.50, according to official university documents we obtained. The bold new plan would reduce the current faculty of 225 full-time professors down to two part-time adjuncts: one for “arts” and one for “sciences.” The medical and engineering faculty would be spun off into for-profit companies, “Kashkow Medicine Dot Edu” and “Kashkow Engineering Dot Edu Dot Com,” respectively.

MMMOOOOCs! will “revolutionize higher education,” said to university president Dieter Geld. “By concentrating on what we do best,” said Geld, “We will be able to better serve our stakeholders.” Pressed on what it was that Kashkow did best, Geld said, “Serving our stakeholders!”

Further aiding the bottom line is the fact that Mr. Aristotle Spinoza, MA, the Professor of Arts, will be on leave next year, serving steakholders at a local “Surf-n-Turf” dining establishment. Raising profits while cutting costs is a “win-win” for education, Geld says.

Such a massive transformation of the university structure will not happen overnight, Geld noted; nor will it happen on its own. “To facilitate the reallocation of resources,” he said, “we are pleased to announce the appointment of a crack team of administrators.” Kashkow will be hiring six new deans and associate deans. Horatio S. O. B. Functionary, former Provost of Gouger Administrators’ College in Shillings-upon-Quid, U.K., will be the new Dean of Profiteering and will oversee the university’s money laundering program. Reed M. N. Weap, a freelance card sharp with over 20 years’ experience in money management, will be the new Dean of Accumulation. And John “Bud” Balls, formerly the football coach at Bigten University, will serve as Associate Dean of Associate Deans and will manage the university’s burgeoning roster of high-level administrators. (Balls will also head up the new varsity intramural sexual predator squad, The Fighting Flashers.) The Office of Public Relations will be split into three, each with its own associate dean: the Office of Stakeholder Relations, the Office of Trustee Relations, and the Office of Dean Relations. The new administrators will make an average of $550,000 per year salary, plus an average of nearly $4,000,000 per year in benefits.

When asked about the wisdom of adding high-paid staff as a cost-cutting measure, Geld replied, “It takes a crack team to bring out real educational change. When it comes to sparing expense, we spare no expense!”


Giving is Healthy

Kashkow logo3


Dear Valued Faculty Member:

It has been a challenging year for Kashkow Medicine. First, we completed the King Mullah Abdullah Medical Multiplex, the first healthcare resort to be attached to a major medical school. The KMAMM is a component of the Kaschkow International Strategy for Monetizing Yet Another Sector of Society (KISMYASS). Completing the KMAMM required purchasing one third of the land mass of our city, in addition to more than 20,000 sturdy cardboard boxes for relocating the residents who lived there. We are glad to report that the residents are enjoying the flexibility and simplicity of life in a cardboard box. That was only the beginning, of course. The twin 40-story towers of the KMAMM feature 5-bedroom luxury suites crafted to impress the most discriminating patient. Each suite comes with its own physical therapy facility, with pool, weight room, and ¼ mile indoor running track; a kitchen staffed by a gourmet chef; an occupational therapy facility, with potting studio and wood shop; a private staff of nurses; and sexual surrogates available on request, no questions asked. We designed these suites, in other words, to be like a home away from home for our most elite patients. The KMAMM also maintains three high-speed cruise ships, fitted with accommodations similar to the towers, that will make “house calls” anywhere in the world for patients who cannot come to Kashkow. We are entering an exciting age of personalized medicine. We understand that healthcare must be tailored to the unique needs of each individual. The most privileged patients, too, deserve to have their expectations accommodated, and meeting those demands is expensive.

Next, we received the news that an anonymous donor was giving us Chicago. Although this generous gift is an exciting opportunity, it comes with significant challenges. First, where will we put it? It is obviously in a bad location and besides, it is too far away. Further, maintaining a city of that size will require a major investment in infrastructure and staff. Nevertheless, with your help, we are confident that we can successfully extend the Kashkow brand to include this and other major metropolises around the world. Indeed, we are close to a deal on purchasing Greece, which is available for a song, comparatively speaking. But we can’t do it without you.

Dr. John Moneybags, the recently anointed Prince of Development at Kashkow, wishes to extend a special invitation to all faculty to be a part of these thrilling changes at our university by making a gift to the school. Although a recent article in Medical Money magazine ranks our School of Medicine faculty as among the lowest paid in American academic medicine, we remind you of the substantial fringe benefits we offer: a generous healthcare package including two free hospital stays of one night or less per year, partial tuition remission for one course per year in our Master’s program in Biomedical Business Administration, and a coupon for 5% off the full uninsured rate for a heart transplant (not to be used in combination with any other offer). These benefits amount to more than $105,000 in effective annual take-home pay. Seen in that light, our faculty are a significant resource to be tapped. In short, we value you and want to make more of you and from you.

We warmly thank all our faculty and staff for contributing to our Institutional Advancement Campaign by accepting a 10% involuntary pay cut for each of the next three years. But we think you can do more. We are asking, therefore, that you invest more of your salary by giving back to your institution through one of our many convenient giving opportunities. For those unable to commit to long-term support, a one-time gift of $1,000 will make a real difference in our inexorable rise to world domination in healthcare. The easiest option is an annual subscription of $5,000 per year, managed through our payroll deduction program (pretax!). These gifts will be acknowledged by a gold-tinted brick with your name laid in our “Walk of Fame,” which will connect Bank of America Hall to Saudi Arabia. Or consider our new “Life Member” program for junior faculty under the age of 35: pledge your firstborn child and receive a “Kashkow World” calendar, delivered to your door every year that you remain part of the Kashkow Family. Staff making less than $40,000 per year are encouraged to drop spare bills and pocket change in one of the many bright blue “I <3 KK” donation boxes conveniently located in every ward, laboratory, classroom, and meeting room on campus. They also accept MasterCard and Visa.

As the poet said, “Health is your most important asset.” It is certainly ours. Our “20×2020” campaign has set an ambitious goal of raising $20 trillion by the year 2020—which translates to roughly the amount of the national debt each year. We have never been willing to settle for “second best.” But we can’t do it without you, our third most important asset (after property). So please, dig deep and make your gift today. And again tomorrow.

Republican Gene Identified

Call it the Biological October Surprise. Last week, just in time to potentially shape the final days of the presidential campaigns, researchers identified a particular form of a gene that is associated with Republican voting patterns. The gene, dubbed Pol-9, showed up in a meta-analysis of Genome Wide Association Studies correlating DNA sequence with exit poll data from the past four presidential elections and six mid-term elections. The findings were published in the October 31 issue of Political Scientism, a leading journal for the geneticization of pretty much everything.

A team from Kashkow University led by Dr. Jeannie Masculator correlated one form of the gene, Pol-9 BolX, with several well-established traits among Republican voters. These included voting against one’s own economic interests, belief in the right to impose one’s values on others, and advocating the rollback of a wide slate of humanitarian and civil rights issues.

The finding comes two years after the discovery of the “liberal gene,” a form of the DRD4 dopamine receptor also correlated with promiscuity, infidelity, and emotionalism.

The Republican Gene seems to be part of an entirely different metabolic and hormonal pathway, but it too has sexual correlates, although they seem to be contradictory. Preliminary findings suggest that Republicans too are predisposed to infidelity but also in this case to polygamy and lack of empathy. Scientists say these findings are still inconclusive and conclude that conclusions therefore are unwarranted, though they warrant further study.

Political strategists were quick to leap on the news. Democratic leaders in charge of the ground game immediately proposed DNA testing as a method of voter identification. Some insiders, who declined to be named for this article, even hinted they might seek to gerrymander certain voting districts by genome sequence. “Republicans have a herd mentality,” our source said. “They tend to live in similar environments.” If these blocs can be split, he said, Democrats have a chance to disarm the “genetic ruling class” that has been coalescing in recent years.

The search for the genetic basis of voting patterns is becoming increasingly mainstream. Social scientists are increasingly turning to genetics to explain complex behaviors, turning away from traditional explanations such as history and economics. “The beauty of the genetic worldview,” according to an editorial in the same issue of Political Scientism, “is that the more we break down the boundaries between genetics and everything else, the more genetic everything else seems.”