Monday, April 25, 2005

Dead Pool for No Child Left Behind?

The National Education Association and eight school districts in states as diverse as Texas, Michigan, and Vermont have filed a legal challenge to No Child Left Behind. The suit was filed in Federal District Court in Detroit and charges that the federal government costs the nation's school districts a "multi-billion dollar national funding shortfall" by not providing adequate federal money for the mandates of the education law. According to the New York Times, the union "seeks a court order notifying states and districts that they are not required to spend their own money to comply with federal requirements."


So how has Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings responded to the spate of lawsuits and challenges to the Bush Administration's signature education law? For starters, she called Connecticut un-American and racist for planning to file a lawsuit against the federal government for not properly funding the law. In an interview with Ray Suarez on the April 7th Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Ms. Spellings said,

"And you know, I think it's un-American -- I would call it -- for us to take the attitude that African-American children in Connecticut living in inner cities are not going to be able to compete, are not going to be prepared to compete in this world and are not going to be educated to high levels. That's the notion, the soft bigotry of low expectations, as the president calls it, that No Child Left Behind rejects."

Right. So you're un-American, racist, and discriminatory toward all those nice inner city black children if you don't want to fund the entire bill for No Child Left Behind so that Our Great Leader can simulataneously fight his Wars on Terror and Taxes without having to throw any extra dineros into the federal education kitty.

Nobody is saying black kids in inner cities across this country shouldn't receive proper educations. Nor is anybody saying we should futz with the test scores by hiding the low performing children (often black and Latino kids) in with the averages of the higher performing children (often white kids). What Connecticut, Utah, Michigan, Vermont, Texas, and the National Education Association are saying is that if you want to hold states, school districts, and schools "accountable" for the new federal education mandates that require progress for all students, you should put your money where your mouth is and fund them.

The point is, George Bush and Margaret Spellings don't give a flying fuck about black kids in Connecticut or Houston or Washington Heights or Oakland. They care about their evangelical base who want federal vouchers for religious schools and their privatization buddies who want to end federal funding for public education. No Child Left Behind is a smoke screen set up to destroy public education by having all public school declared "failing" under the dictates of the law by 2015 to give the evangelicals and the privatization people their rewards. And the kicker is, Bush and Spellings get to declare public education a failure while piously claiming they are fighting discrimination against inner city minorities and "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

But Bush and Spellings didn't care about minority kids when they were "reforming" Texas education policy in the 1990's (Latest "Texas Miracle" Scandals: educators at 400 schools across the state helped students cheat on exams and the city of Houston misrepresented their drop-out rate, which may be as high as 42%) and they don't care about them now. If they did care, they'd stop throwing around the accusations and start funding the mandates.

Now I just wonder: when do we start the dead pool for No Child Left Behind?

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