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NCLB Outrages

Ax ‘No Child’ left behind

This column was syndicated in many newspapers. Let's hope local Standardistos give it a read: It is wrong to set low expectations, but it is infinitely crueler to burden children with high expectations beyond their ability to achieve.

Fortuitously, this column happened to appear in the Madisonville, Kentucky newspaper on the very day I was attacked by a businessman attending a Rotary meeting where I spoke about NCLB. (It's a long story.) I hope he read it! His premise, one resonating across America, is that schools fail 30% of their students, the dropouts, and that if he as a businessman did that, he'd be out of business. It's the classic Business Roundtable student-as-profit metaphor.

Well, my goodness, I think schools fail a much higher percentage. . . but that doesn't make his "student as product" any less reprehensible.
Ha! before traveling to Kentucky, I'd looked up the job forecasts for that region. The most available job? Cashier. $7.19 an hour. I tried to engage my adversary in a conversation about the need for a living wage.

Silence.

He was much eager to bash the schools.

In any case, I was very grateful to walk away from that confrontation and see that Charley Reese was looming large in the local paper.


by Charley Reese

One of the things the next president should do is ax the No Child Left Behind law. It is based on a false premise.

Essentially it mandates that by a certain time, students should perform the same in academic skills. That is as stupid and unscientific as decreeing that every child must run the 100-yard dash in the same time.

The only way such a goal can be achieved is by fraud, by dumbing down both the curricula and the tests. And donât think for a minute that the massive public-education bureaucracy wonât stoop that low. Theyâve already dumbed down the curricula in many schools.

We live in an Orwellian, politically correct world not unlike the world that sent Galileo to prison for the sin of speaking the truth. The Earth does indeed, as Galileo said, revolve around the sun, and human beings are indeed biologically different.

There have been so many conferences about the gaps in test scores, all professing ignorance as to the cause, that itâs become laughable. There are gaps in test scores because there are gaps in intelligence. Decades of studies and tests prove this. Itâs only in recent years that the political-correctness police has decreed that no one dare mention it upon pain of banishment.

To head off racist demagogues who might want to paint me as a white supremacist, every one of these studies shows that the average IQ of East Asians is higher than that of whites. If anyone has a scientific basis for claiming racial superiority, itâs the East Asians, not us white folks.

Part of the problem is that people always want to inject judgments about superiority and inferiority. That is the wrong trail to follow. All weâre talking about are differences. The human race is not mass manufactured in some cosmic factory. We are all born as individuals, and there are differences. Some are tall, some are short; some are of one color, some are of another. With all the differences we can see, how can anybody suppose that only our brains are exactly the same?

No one ever accused me of being an Einstein. English and history were snap courses for me, but I had to sweat like a Florida roofer to get through chemistry and algebra. I can read music because I was forced as a child to take piano lessons, but Iâm not remotely a musician. In the Army, I set a post record for low score on the mechanical aptitude test. I defy all the determinists in the world to make me into a master carpenter.

It is wrong to set low expectations, but it is infinitely crueler to burden children with high expectations beyond their ability to achieve. Every child should be encouraged to achieve the maximum of his or her potential, but no child should be blamed or looked down on simply because his or her test scores are not as high as someone elseâs.

More importantly, teachers given a classroom full of individuals with individual differences and backgrounds should not be blamed for failing to achieve politically decreed uniform results.

Itâs odd that a society that purports to claim tolerance and diversity as its highest values is also desperate to deny that differences exist. We are not the same, and we are not equal in a physiological sense. We never have been, and we never will be.

Furthermore, the worth of a human being is not measured by IQ. Itâs measured by character. Some of the worst people in the world have very high IQs, but they are despicable snakes nevertheless. IQ is not an indicator of either superiority or inferiority. It is an indicator only of difference in the computing capacity of the brain.

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Let us know what you think about this story or

— Charley Reese
The Messenger
2007-11-27


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