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NCLB Outrages

Bracey's Rotten Apple Awards

The "Crawford Best Dang Trojan horse Since Ancient Times" Award:
George W. Bush

Who would have thought that a mere two years would be sufficient to eclipse such dis-achievement champions as Bill Bennett for lifetime honors, but the 5-4 Prez has done it with his No Child Left Behind legislation (he did have, we should note, a few warm-up years in Texas).

This is truly a weapon of mass destruction, a bunker-buster of mammoth proportions. Some of the lunacy is inherent in the legislation. Other gobs of goofiness fall from the work of the National Institute for Doctrinal Uniformity, previously known as the U. S. Department of Education. In its first pass at labeling schools as failures, the Department uncovered startling facts: Michigan has the greatest number of failing schools (1500) and Arkansas is home to the smallest (zero) (has anyone observed convoys of prairie schooners heading South on I69 out of Lansing?). Obviously, Bill Clinton was a better education governor of the Razorback State than anyone, Clinton included, previously realized.

The National Council of State Legislatures projects that 70% of all public schools will be labeled failing (or, "needs improvement" under the obfuscation code derived from another George, George Orwell). According to Department regulations, all children in failing schools must be offered the option of transferring to a better one. Crowding is not acceptable as an excuse (except, and I am not kidding here, where it might violate fire codes or other safety regulations). Schools with large numbers of students wanting in must have larger classes, buy mobile trailers or build more classrooms (how's that for an unfunded mandate?). We thus face the possible prospect in a few years of having 100% of our children attending schools currently occupied by only 30% of our children (no one has yet dealt with what those transferring students will do to the test scores of the "successful," receiving schools). I say, old chums, is there a bit of irrationality in all of this?

Chris Whittle is no doubt standing by ready to accept in Edison Schools kids arriving with the vouchers that Bush will without doubt resurrect.

The NCLB trap has already received additional attention and deconstruction in "The Twelfth Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education" (Phi Delta Kappan, October, 2002, posted at

www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/EDDRA/EDDRA26.pdf and in "No Child Left Behind: Just Say No." Although many have been offered the latter, only the Minnesota School Boards Association has had to courage to publish it. It's been posted, and will be soon, if not already, archived at EDDRA.

Ohanian note: Other Rotten Apple Awards can be seen at

Read Bracey's incisive description of the outrageous antics that resulted in these awards, and you'll get a quick survey of the attack on public schools.

The "Swiftest Repudiation of 'Scientifically Based Research'" Award:
The United States Department of Education

The "Swiftest Misinterpretation of 'Non-Scientifically Based Research'" Award:
Reid Lyon, Bush's resident reading czar.

The "Most Incendiary Post 9/11 Educational Legislative Proposal Based on Rigorous Scientific Research" Award:
Reid Lyon, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The "Pedagogical Robotics" Award:
Susan Neuman, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

The "Taking Crony Capitalism to the Cradle" Award:
Jack Grubman

The "Quality Control. Schmality Control, It's Profits That Count" Award:
National Computer Systems (NCS)

The "Conduct Scholarship As I Say, Not As I Do" Award:
Herbert J. Walberg

The "Sound of One Mind Closing" Award:
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni

The "Rising Tide of Warmed Over Rhetoric" Award:
The Council for Basic Education

The "Road To Hell Is Paved With. . ." Award:
The Education Trust

The "Polyanna Meets Dr. Pangloss and They Go Off To Have Lunch with George Orwell" Award:
The Education Trust

The "Ready, Aim, Delete" Award, or "The Elderly Man and The Sea" Award:
*The New York State Department of Education
*The New York State Board of Regents
*New York Commissioner of Education, Rick Mills
*Educational Testing Service
*And probably all other test publishers

The "Worst Performance On a Writing Test" Award:
The Ohio State Legislature

The "They Say that Memory Is the Second Thing to Go" Award:
Scientific American Magazine

The "Stand the Argument on Its Head" Award:
George F. Will

The "Let Me Count the Ways" Award:
Chris Whittle and Edison Schools, Inc.

The "Watch What We Say, Not What We Do" Award:
Edison CEO Chris Whittle and Edison President, Benno Schmidt

— Gerald W. Bracey
Rotten Apple Awards

December 2002


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