1.14.2007

National Review: "Let's distance ourselves . . ."

Michael Petrilli's article "Leaving My Lapel Pin Behind Is No Child Left Behind’s birthday worth celebrating?" is a moving farewell, but he can't let it go. He says that supporting NCLB is a statement of belief in the "subtext" of the law as a "belief system." Perhaps I exaggerate somewhat, but that's how I read it.

I can't think of anything that gives me more satisfaction. Unless it would be a statement affirming the actual subtext as handed down by the Moses of privatization, William Bennett. He who would have denied internet access to public school students. A statement that public schools have as their goal preparing students as minimally qualified workers for the jobs of yesterday would be nice.

Petrilli cites a list of "powerful" ideas that embody 1990s education reform.
First, that every child has the capacity to achieve a minimal level of proficiency by 18 (not 22.)
Second, that school systems need threats in order to work.
Third, education bureaucracies and licensing rules impede good teaching.
Fourth, creating commercial alternatives to public school education has "all kinds" of benefits. (I can't THINK of anything funnier to say that that.)
Fifth, the federal government NEEDS to be involved in education in your community.

No, I don't think you can distance yourself from NCLB and still "embrace" the core values of a destructive subtext. It reminds me of people who say that Adolph Hitler never told his minions "... exterminate all of the Jewish people you can find." Who cares which words he used or how he used them? His people understood what he wanted them to do and they did it.

A final observation. When you discover your strategy and tactic has failed, you don't position more of your resources there. Reauthorizing the dysfunctional values represented by NCLB would be that kind of "surge."