Here's a great moment in American educational ignominy (and no, I'm not talking about the WASL, that's a couple of paragraphs further down). In March, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a group of stamps honoring American scientists. One is Gerty Cori, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist. She is shown with the chemical formula for a derivative of glucose that she co-discovered with her husband. But there's a problem: a member of the public saw an advance picture of the stamp and noticed that the chemical formula shown on the stamp is incorrect. No problem says the Postal Service, we'll release it anyway. That says it all. The Postal Service is always trying to raise awareness of good causes, like science, education, cancer, and Chinese New Year. They say that getting kids interested in stamp collecting is a great way for them to learn. But apparently, that learning doesn't include giving them accurate scientific information. In the past, the Postal Service has sometimes gone to great lengths to recall and fix stamps found to contain errors. This time, they shrug it off. Who's going to notice? I'm no genius. I would have missed the mistake if I were Official Stamp Inspector #462. But the point isn't whether the public will notice (though someone actually did), it's whether officialdom cares about accuracy and the truth. It's about whether officialdom sets a high bar for itself. Isn't this the government that makes our kids take all those exams in science, math, reading and writing? Isn't this the government that's always telling us we don't have enough engineers and mathematicians and scientists? If they don't give a fig for accuracy, why should we? That brings me to the WASL. If it were up to me, we would never have instituted it. One reason: I lacked confidence that the educational system would hold itself to the kind of tough standards they were demanding of the students. That's proved to be the case. Since it's inception, schools, teachers, parents and administrators have been screwing around with the WASL, providing ways to get around it, delaying its implementation, and fiddling with the numbers. The WASL debacle has mainly succeeded in giving students a Grade A education in hypocrisy. That should qualify them for jobs as postal officials.