December 17, 2004

More yelps of pain...

It's beginning to dawn on people that NCLB is a revolution about to happen. Orrin pointed to this article...

The Perfect Law: No Child Left Behind and the Assault on Public Schools, by Gerald W. Bracey

Imagine a law that would transfer hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public sector to the private sector, reduce the size of government, and wound or kill a large Democratic power base. Impossible, you say. But the law exists. It is Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, better known as the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB).


The Bush administration has often been accused of Orwellian doublespeak in naming its programs, and NCLB is a masterpiece of a law to accomplish the opposite of what it apparently intends. While claiming to be the law that-finally!-improves public education, NCLB sets up public schools to fail, setting the stage for private education companies to move in on the $400 billion spent annually on K-12 education ($500 billion according to recent statements by Secretary of Education Rod Paige). The consequent destruction or reduction of public education would shrink government and cripple or eliminate the teachers' unions, nearly five million mostly Democratic voters. It's a law to drool over if you're Karl Rove or Grover Norquist. The Perfect Law, in fact, as in The Perfect Storm..
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I don't think Mr Bracey quite understands. I think NCLB is NOT an attempt to destroy public schools for the benefit of the private sector (though some of that will likely happen). It's about CHOICE. Giving choice to parents, so schools have to please parents to keep students. That's something far more interesting...

Bracey points out that the standards set by NCLB will be almost impossible to meet. Hmmm. If they are impossible to meet, I guess there will have to be some compromises down the road. Let me make a prediction. When/if the compromise happens, schools will be allowed to ease the standards a bit where they pinch...but only if parents are also given more choice about which public schools their children go to.

Grover Norquist doesn't quite get it either. He has chortled about how the reforms Republicans are pushing are perfectly calculated to injure key elements of the Democrat coalition. Tort Reform, for instance, would hit those vile animals of the Plaintiffs Bar, (the "Trial Lawyers") who are perhaps the biggest of the Dem contributors. But the Republicans didn't calculate this, they didn't choose the reforms; the reforms chose the Republicans. They called us forth from minority-status obscurity. Such reforms are pressing and urgent precisely because the Democrats can't touch them, and have been ignoring them for decades.

If NCLB does hurt the teachers' unions, that will be a splendid by-product. Those people are evil. They oppose every attempt to fix our schools. And the dirty secret is that they are not teachers—a lot of them aren't. In many public-school systems, only about half the employees are teachers—with the other half mostly a massive clog-up of bureaucrats and administrators. That's why those systems are money-sinks, and why increases in school-funding never seem to fix things. But all those educrats belong to the "teachers" unions, and always claim that any attack on their perks is an "attack on our schools."

And if the by-product of harming the unions is harm to the Democrat party, that will also be an excellent spin-off of NCLB. The Dems have been deeply corrupted by those unions, raking in huge campaign contributions in exchange for damning poor and minority children to blighted lives.

But what Bush is after is choice.

Posted by John Weidner at December 17, 2004 8:00 AM
Weblog by John Weidner