No Child Left Behind: The Triumph of Diana Moon Glompers
Equality was enforced by gun-totin' Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, and her agents. At the story opens George and Hazel Bergeron are watching ballet on TV. The ballerinas "were burdened with sash weights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in." A bulletin arrives and the announcer, having been handicapped with a severe speech impediment, gives it to a ballerina to read. It is about George and Hazel's 14-year-old son, Harrison.
"Harrison Bergeron has escaped from jail. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped and should be regarded as extremely dangerous."
The Bergeron story came to me again on Friday, April 20 when a superintendent from Arizona showed me test score trends from the state and her district. Over a three year period, the chart showed the percent of students falling into one of four levels of achievement: falls far behind standard, approaches standard, meets standard, or exceeds standard.
The pattern is clear for both the district and the state; in reading, mathematics and writing; and across all 4 tested grades (3,5,8,10): Over a three-year period, children in the "falls far behind standard" category become less numerous. Children in the "exceeds standard" category become less numerous. Low-achieving students are drifting up towards the middle; high-achieving students are drifting down towards the middle. In the name of Adequate Yearly Progress and Saint Proficiency, NCLB is making us equal.
So it goes.
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