New Page -- 20 March 2004
“No Child Left Behind” sounds like a pretty good idea – ensuring that every child has an opportunity for a good education, and demanding accountability from the public school system. Unfortunately, this United States Congressional legislation, which might have been more accurately named, “No politician left behind”, was a bipartisan effort which has instead created a monster only Calvin and Hobbes could appreciate. [Calvin loves dinosaurs and most anything else with ugly, massive teeth. And this baby has teeth!]
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has in fact been lauded as one of the great achievements of the Bush (aka Shrub) Administration. That should give you some kind of clue about its desirability.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that this law has the potential of becoming one of the greater travesties of the Twenty First Century, ranking right up there with enemy combatants, homeland insecurity, and Indianapolis. The freedom destroying and/or limiting possibilities of the NCLB law which are currently being foisted upon an unsuspecting populace by the powers that be – i.e., the men behind the curtain -- are quite frankly enormous. The NCLB, as it is presently formulated, is a disaster looking for a whole slew of victims. We're talking pretty serious bad news!
It is particularly important to note that the NCLB is bad news not because:
These problems are all real, of course, and make the program enormously less desirable than one might hope for. But by far the greater problem with the NCLB is that it focuses on ensuring competence in reading, math, and science skills to the exclusion of other subjects. This is not its stated intention, but that's how it works.
Competence in reading, math, and science sounds pretty good. These seem to be the subjects that are in demand in a modern world. The difficulty arises when the standardized tests translate directly into job security concerns of teachers and administrators. For it is at that point that it becomes a lead pipe cinch that all the efforts by the educational community will be directed toward enabling the students to pass the tests, without regard to anything else . Educating students will become suddenly secondary to meeting a limited set of standards. The key is maintaining job security for the teachers and administrators by having their students pass the tests!
This problem is exemplified in “Beating the Bubble Test” , whereby one Iowa school became a NCLB poster child, but at a very substantial and horrendous cost.
In the Iowa example, a year of states' history, geography and capitals has been shrunk to six weeks, and “writing skills have certainly deteriorated.” In addition, “Activities for the gifted and talented have not been cut, but high-achieving kids aren't grouped in accelerated clusters in regular classes anymore. They are spread out so they can help the lower-scoring students.”  Such inclusion of diversity in the classroom admittedly sounds very democratic, but it is actually more closely associated with the doctrine of communism – “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” It's also very anti-Capitalism.
Much more importantly, however – inasmuch as being anti-Capitalism is not necessarily a bad idea – is the fact that reading, math, and science may be considered to be the sum total of the essentials for individuals to become useful members of the corporate employee pool . These are the tools necessary to a job seeker, but not the tools sufficient to foster citizenship in a democracy. This is the whole point!
In fact, such jewels as creative writing and social studies are not considered conducive or necessary in becoming a cog in the corporate machine. Topics ranging from government, law, and economics to history, geography, education, communications, and comparative religion -- among other things – do not add to the corporate bottom line, and are therefore seriously downgraded in their alleged importance. From the corporate rule viewpoint, such studies tend to create an eagerness and willingness to Question Authority , an activity which is anathema to most corporations. Questioning authority is simply not something any regimented entity (corporations, governments, militaries, and the like) want to encourage, or for that matter even tolerate.
In essence, social studies do not have any intrinsic value to a corporation in their selection of corporate employees, and in fact carry a negative connotation. Such citizenship studies tend to upset the corporate applecart, particularly if and when the slaves suddenly realize the purpose of those big iron manacles on their feet and hands. Additionally, being able to write – and thus convey one's dismay over the current state of affairs, or to suggest to others in a lucid and convincing manner the nature of the problem – is also considered to be superfluous for the masses when it comes to controlling said masses by the power elite. Reading, on the other hand, is necessary for easily disseminating rules, regulations, orders, and instructions. “ Reading, good; writing, bad” is the new corporate motto.
It is becoming increasingly evident that the real reason – i.e., the hidden agenda upon which the No Child Left Behind law was created (and slipped through the lines of rational opposition) – is that corporations will have a fatter bottom line when they have a greater pool of qualified employees from which to select. In other words, no child should be left out of the employee pool and/or slave market. The greater the number of people with the ability to read instructions, rules, and notices, and then function productively in an increasingly technological society, the greater the ability of a corporation to pick and choose its employees.
A fundamental truth is that Uniqueness implies value . The contrary view is that standardization reduces the value of the commodity being standardized. At the same time, standardized and regimented rules of education create consistency in the cannon fodder being employed by corporations.
To educate, by definition, means to “draw forth”, but the NCLB's focus is for standardized behavior in only those subjects which a corporation needs for maximum profitability in its employees. Simultaneously, such a limited focus reduces independence and the ability of employees to demand anything at all in the way of fair wages, safe working conditions, and equality in the receipt of the fruits of their labors.
[There is also the slightly added advantage of not having a large population of essentially uneducated and thus unemployable individuals on the welfare roles, a traditional bugaboo of Bush's Republican Party and corporations the world over.]
From the viewpoint of some background, we might note the following from the government's own website in which it propagandizes the NCLB:
[Obviously, the old adage of “reading, writing, and arithmetic” is outdated! But hey! Two out of three ain't bad for these guys. (Even if the more enlightened among us might opt for the Four R's: reading, riting, rithmetic, and reasoning.)]
Meanwhile, most of the opposition to the NCLB tends to concentrate around the subject of money. The National Education Association – termed by Rod Paige, the Education Secretary of the Bush Administration as a “terrorist organization” (a statement which was subsequently apologized for as a “poor choice of words” * – has objected less to the downgrade of subjects designed to make better citizens of a democracy and/or a republic, and has instead leaped on the corporate bandwagon of demanding ever greater amounts of funding to carry out the latest edicts of the federal government.
Meanwhile, joining in the “more money if you want accountability” theme is a collection of diverse groups, i.e.:
That's not the point, folks! What is being done by the NCLB is a return to the Work Schools of Kaiser Germany, which mandated minimal education for the masses (just enough to ensure their ability to work and obey orders).
What is needed instead is an expanded focus on: First, what does it take to create knowledgeable and discriminating citizens of a Republic? After that, we can work on providing entrepreneurial skills for those wanting to be their own bosses, and as a last resort, providing the ability for those so inclined to become willing and knowing cogs in the corporate machine.
The solution to NCLB, therefore, is to greatly expand the accountability standards to the entire school experience. Otherwise, we have a huge political majority without the ability to question, challenge, and demand accountability of authority!
In that regard, it's probably also time to set accountability standards for Presidents, Senators, Representatives, public servants, and so forth and so on. Maybe even CEOs ! Talk about radical ideas! Let's take away the burden on children and their teachers and apply it instead on authorities, adults, and executives! Wow! What an idea!
 http://cgi.citizen-times.com/cgi-bin/story/editorial/50591 “ Essentially, arguments against NCLB can be put into four broad groups: Its goals are unrealistic, its funding is inadequate, it favors federal over local control and it's too punitive.”
 Amanda Ripley, “Beating the Bubble Test,” Time Magazine , March 1, 2004 .
 “Notebook”, Time Magazine , March 8, 2004 . [* Paige's comment – amazingly enough -- may have some validity in terms of the NEA not exactly being an advocate of education. That the NEA is a strong advocate of educators is not in question, whereas the benefits for students (the alleged beneficiaries) tend to have a very low priority at the NEA.]
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