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Published in Education Week

To the editor

Go here for a fine essay by Joseph Batory.

To the Editor:

I noted with interest, in your article "Spellings' Worldview: There's No Going Back on K-12 Accountability" (Dec. 10, 2008), that outgoing U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was not sure, after all of her "success" with the No Child Left Behind Act, about her future plans. I have a suggestion: Ms. Spellings should work to transfer the federal law's "brilliance" to the business and corporate world, which is in desperate need of improvement.

Clearly, the No Child Left Behind Act for public education could be replicated with a No Corporation Left Behind Act for business and industry. This new legislation would focus on: (1) discouraging innovation by regimenting and mechanizing all daily activity, whether effective or not; (2) downplaying all creative activity as a waste of time; (3) limiting analytical thinking and invention, since they're not critical to the mission; and (4) requiring frequent standardized tests developed by the government for all employees, with success on these tests the highest priority for businesses and corporations, rather than developing high-quality products or innovative techniques.

The chief goal of this new No Corporation Left Behind law would be to subsequently embarrass and humiliate corporate and business institutions with government labeling that would be widely publicized by the news media, in phrases such as "has been warned," "in corrective action," "in need of improvement," "not making adequate progress," or "failing—should be taken over for restructuring." The underlying principle of this proposed legislation would be that everyone inside a business or corporation is either incompetent or stupid, so they all must be bludgeoned to greatness.

If these goals and purposes for the proposed No Corporation Left Behind Act seem questionable or even a bit silly, please be reminded that the concepts are very similar to what has been done to public education via the No Child Left Behind Act. After all, should not the federal government's "brilliant" recipe for school improvement also be utilized to create business improvement?

The writer was the superintendent of the Upper Darby school district in Pennsylvania from 1984 to 1999.

Joseph P. Batory

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