George Miller and Ted Kennedy have some amends to make to the schoolchildren of America. Five years ago they pretended to be dragged kicking and screaming into supporting the NCLB school privatization bill that was passed under the cynical pretenses of addressing the education needs of the neediest of America’s children. Miller and Kennedy stand poised now with the opportunity to correct the half decade of child abuse, education abuse, and unprecedented corruption that resulted, and at the same time to begin the renewal of our nation’s commitment to quality public schools for all children.
With the help of a Congress now committed to health care for all children and a semblance of a living wage for all of their working parents, we may actually begin to address the health gap, the opportunity gap, the income gap, the housing gap, and finally, then, the achievement gap. None of these gaps can be closed separately, a fact that has been lost on right-wing conservatives and blind liberals who have never been able or willing to admit to their complicity in a dangerous charade that has taken K-12 education to the brink of meltdown.
Spellings and Bush have already begun their push to hurry through re-authorization of their miseducative and thuggish school privatization assault, and it is up to Miller and Kennedy to take the lead in exposing this corrupt ploy for what it has always been, with its unaccountable corporate tutoring provisions, its illegal and repressive reading and instructional preferences that have done nothing but fatten the profit margins for cronies in the testing industry, and its impossible performance targets aimed to undercut public school support and to spawn religious and corporate schooling paid for with tax money.
It is time for Congressional Democrats to do their homework and to educate themselves on the alternatives that are available to achieve a quality system of public school with real accountability, not the phony, oversimplified and corrupt testing game that has left our children less prepared to move forward as citizens of the greatest democratic republic in the world.
Where to start? Call in the teachers from Nebraska, along with their brave Commissioner, Doug Christensen, to do a little Congressional in-service on what meaningful learning and assessment looks like in schools committed to happy and engaged children, productive adults, and a nation that aspires to remain the best hope for the flourishing of civilization.