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Leave No Child Behind: Bill Maher
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Leave No Child Behind: Bill Maher  Reply with quote  

Its a nice, quick read.

August 10, 2003

Leave No Child Behind Means Make'em Vanish
By Bill Maher

New Rule: Stop believing slogans, especially the ones that come out of the White House. Slogans are not policy, and they're not truth. Twinkies aren't wholesome goodness, and The Clear Skies Initiative isn't really gong to bring clear skies. And, it turns out, the "Leave No Child Behind" law actually leaves lots of children behind.

So many, they even have a name now: "Pushouts," as in "we're pushing you out of school so that our cumulative test scored will be higher."

Yes, that's what this is all about. Our Leave No Child Behind law-as opposed to the Catholic Church law, which is called "Leave no Child's Behind"-is written like this: as a state, you get federal money for your schools, but only when you make a few things happen, mainly test scores going up and drop-out rates going down. How best to achieve both of those goals? By making the dumber kids…disappear!

The program Bush brags about in Houston was all about raising test scores by making almost the entire bottom half of the class drop out, and then lowering the dropout rate by putting those dropouts in phony categories like "transferred" or "enrolled in GED" or "dating Kobe." Sure it was a little suspicious the way the testing system seemed to funnel so much money to old Bush friends McGraw Hill, but what can you do? You can't make an omelet without making a few people rich. What mattered was, it worked.

Except it didn't. We weren't really improving the system, but we were improving it where it matters: on paper. It's not for nothing all these Texans looked up to Enron. When Bush ran in 2000, Houston's dropout rate was given as 1.5%. It's been revised to 40%. Probably by the same guy who does the budget. Enron was gaming the energy futures; here it was the kid's futures.

Not that every kid should go to college; I've always believed every kid should not. But every kid should finish High School, and if you call your law No child left behind, it does take a special kind of Texas size nerve to then treat those children like cards in a Gin Rummy hand, where you get to ditch the two low ones, and where bodies just disappear like dissidents in Argentina, or that Julia Louise Dreyfuss sitcom.

"No child" means none, and I don't need a degree in fuzzy math to know that forty percent is not none. Are inner city schools tough, with high drop out rates? Yes, but again, when you say "no child", the implication is that we're going after the section of kids who are harder to reach.

And who can be reached, as we've learned from scores of movies about impossible high schools where one really dedicated actor, I mean teacher, makes a huge difference and gets the kids to dig Shakespeare. George Bush ran for office as the education guy, as the Sidney Poitier or Edward James Olmos or Michelle Pfieffer character - I mean candidate - and his caring about leaving no child behind is what softened him into a compassionate conservative. So it does seem wrong when we find out that we're doing, apparently, is just handling lots of kids a GED kit and a curt "Don't let the door hit you in the ass."

"And good luck exploring your other educational opportunities, like learning how many vials of crack you can carry in your underwear."

Our president has made speeches where he chuckles at himself for being a C student at Yale. Of course, being who his father was, he could afford to chuckle at it; falling behind would not really keep him behind. But the rest of us aren't so fortunate. And as no one could tell you better than George Bush, we don't all blossom early in life, so maybe writing off so many kids at 15 or 17 isn't such a wise policy. It might amuse the president to know that this is exactly what they do in his favorite country, France, but the French don't lie about it and sell it as leaving no child behind, and France has more of a social safety net than we do. We have one, but its called prison.

People say education is the cornerstone of our democracy - they're wrong, of course - its campaign cash, and lots of it. But shouldn't it still count for something? As the president himself might say, "we can do gooder."
Post Sat Aug 30, 2003 7:52 pm
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yet anathor thing to hate the bush administration for. sigh.
Post Sat Aug 30, 2003 8:19 pm
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Sometimes I disagree with Bill Mahrer. This is not one of them. He's a guy who has his head screwed on better than most.
Post Sat Aug 30, 2003 8:22 pm
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seriously, maher is on point with this one
Post Sat Aug 30, 2003 8:38 pm
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futuristxen wrote:
Sometimes I disagree with Bill Mahrer. This is not one of them. He's a guy who has his head screwed on better than most.

This is exactly what I thought as I was reading this.

Post Sat Aug 30, 2003 8:56 pm
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