Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Bush Loyalist Fights Foes of 'No Child' Law" June 12
FIRST off, let us say about the Reformer that he or she is, at least in the modern age, a close cousin of the Enthusiast, except the odds of the Reformer being a cynical, self-serving skunk are that much greater.
Celebrity Jeopardy! also-ran Margaret Spellings pops up with the toast this morning--she's busy running for governor of Texas on the Federal dime, in case you're wondering what's actually going on--just as we started combing our Bush archives for a possible Retrospective, an instructional journey into the giant impacted bolus of American politics I hope we'll all share someday soon. (Wish I'd done so a couple months back, as the stuff about the 2000 primary, and Bush Backer fears that it was Going On Too Long, has been trimmed of both pith and zest.) How fitting that one of the last Bush Insiders is squeezing the withered Federal dugs in an ostensible attempt to rescue the crown jewel of his domestic policy, the sorry-assed 2001 exercise in political chicanery (that fooled Ted Kennedy--who'd been in the Senate for forty years at that point!--for a time) which, basically, updated the 1995 Clinton education "reforms", the better for Republicans to make use of them. How fitting, and how inadequate a comeuppance. Even domestically.
Ted Kennedy was fooled into thinking the Bush administration was genuinely interested in bipartisan educational reform! I know a lot of liberals admire the man, and I know he's stood bravely atop the ramparts on more than one occasion, but maybe they should have been checking him for brain bubbles seven years ago. The very idea of Bush's candidacy should have been enough to convince anyone that the modern Republican party could not be trusted to make accurate change, let alone in any more serious operation; if not, then the remarkable way Dick Cheney appended himself to it should have been, for Teddy, et. al., what a comet was to the Bronze Age rabble. And all that's before the 2000 election. This would point out one of the lessons to be learned, someday, from an examination of the Bush administration: that We, as a People, are remarkably slow to learn lessons.
"...with respect to how education fares compared with other domestic priorities, I think we’ve done well.”
-Secretary of Education Margaret Skillings
Sure. Just as, in the Land of Stinking Fresh Turd Piles, the Mostly-Dessicated Cow Flop is king.
We will, at some point this fall, elect a guy who says a lot of the right things about NCLB, but concludes, in that reasonable soul of his, that what the thing needs is a good reforming. (I suppose there's an off-chance that we, or Diebold, will elect the other guy, the one who believes real education should begin for all Americans on Day One of boot camp.) We hope, against audacious hope, that he will not get his way, and that the Federal government will begin concentrating on issues of equal access and a well-rounded education, and away from semi-crypto-union busting and aid to religious schools. And a reasonable course in our own History to replace the current collection of fairy tales wouldn't hurt, either. Or maybe a nice Blue-Ribbon Panel on what sort of meddlesomeness is required to correct the problems thirty years of meddlesomeness have wrought. In this we trust in the support of the American people, who have shown, with regard to Iraq, that their interest in healthy living includes a regular program of speed-walking away from the messes they create while whistling vigorously. If our elected officials have not learned what inevitable fate awaits God-playing corpse re-animators then the very idea of literacy seems pointless.
Where the Republican party has, for years, sought to make public schools fail, we hope to make them succeed, and our own simple proposal will soon be available to both campaigns as a .pdf. In the meantime, somewhat oversimplified, our suggestion is that, since voters can now be required to show picture ID to exercise their most basic rights, they could be required to take the NCLB test as well, and their results tabulated and quantified as the basic skill level required to be a good citizen. That ought to raise nearly every school in the country to the Excellent category overnight.