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October 14, 2003
No Child Left Behind? Make that Children Being Pushed Backwards

Many months ago, on November 6th of last year, in among a long, disorganised, multi-subject posting of the sort I have long ago learned to do as five separate postings, I asked the following, of President Bush's still then much trumpetted No Child Left Behind Act:

Question. What if a good teacher stops being a teacher at all, because of not having completed and not wanting to complete an "academic major"?

Later in the same posting (if you had really dug) you would have found this, to the effect that this same Act:

is a disaster in the making, but we are witnessing the very beginning of it, the bright shining dawn. No child left behind! Six years from now, expect the news to be about all the children being left behind, and all the further behind because of what the government is now doing.

The point being that not only did the Act say that No Children are going to be Left Behind so there. It also said that all teachers had to be Really Good, so there. The teachers who were bad at passing complicated academic type exams were themselves going to have to shape up or move out.

So today I come across this story, and I feel vindicated:

FAIRLEA, W.Va. President Bush's No Child Left Behind education program, acclaimed as a policy and political breakthrough by the Republicans in January 2002, is threatening to backfire on Bush and his party in the 2004 elections.

The plan is aimed at improving the performance of students, teachers, and schools with yearly tests and serious penalties for failure. Although many Republicans and Democrats are confident the system will work in the long run, Bush is being criticized in swing states such as West Virginia for not adequately funding programs to help administrators and teachers meet the new and, critics say, unreasonable standards.

Bush hoped to enhance his image as a compassionate conservative by making the education program one of the first and highest priorities of his administration. But he could find the law complicating his reelection effort, political strategists from both parties say, as some states report that as many as half or more schools are failing to make the new grade and lack the money to turn things around promptly.

Phase one, in other words, has been completed. The Bright Shining Dawn bit is now over. X zillion dollars further on, in about, you know, another five years or so, it will be understood that all this Federal Lawmaking and Federal Money has actually made things worse.

I told you so, in other words, even if not so you'd notice.

I think I may be getting the hang of this education blogging thing.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 06:03 PM
Category: Politics
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