It looks as though the conservatives at ED put on their brass knucks last week while I was away. (I have stopped using the term, “neo-con,” since there is nothing new about the current variety of backwards thinking except the degree of its brazenness). With just two years left to bring down public education, the education privatizers know their time is short and that sweeping measures are called for if the American public is going to be convinced of the imminent meltdown of the American education system.
The problem for ED, however, is the same one that their bosses have down the street in the White House—no one believes them anymore except the 25% who are waiting for the Rapture. After all, who is his right mind would believe that a political regime with less than ten percent of support among African-Americans really has the interests of black children or black adults at heart, despite the fine-sounding “no child left behind” rhetoric that was stolen from the Children’s Defense Fund. And while black parents know racism when they see it, they are mostly uninformed as to the type of straight-jacket boot camp educations that the conservatives prefer for urban children, who are intended to be taught that safety can be found only in a police state and that failure only comes to those who don’t try hard enough.
These crass Christo-fascists have made no secret that they would prefer to privatize public schools through church school vouchers or charters, just as they would like to privatize Social Security and Medicare. So why, indeed, should anyone be surprised that 34 states now fall short of achieving the testing requirements that they were intended to not accomplish in the first place?
Failure? You ain’t seen nothing yet if NCLB remains on the books. NCLB as implemented by ED is the most effective weapon that enemies of public education will ever have at their disposal, and hammering away at public confidence in public schools is a deliberate strategy to gain public acquiescence for their disposal.
Responding to the failure of Maine to satisfy the Federal testing requirements, one commentator last week summed up the States’ position very well: with “many states struggling to make their system work, [Maine] is at the bottom, in a conflict with an opponent that is also the referee.” Appealing a bad call is not likely to be of much help when the other team owns the umpire.
Anything less than a open rejection of NCLB by the states will only aggravate the intensity of the brazen efforts to do damage to public education. The sooner that governors and state departments and school boards realize this, the sooner we can dump this failure-by-design plan of NCLB and get back to the work of educating our people.