AUSTIN, Texas – With so many delights on our political plate, it's hard to know where to begin. Take that knee-slapping joke by Education Secretary Rod Paige: He called our largest teachers' union "a terrorist organization." In fun, of course. Gosh darn, HEE-HAW! All over the nation, teachers are just chuckling away.
Paige is upset with the National Education Association because it is lobbying in Washington to give states more flexibility and more money in meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. If that makes the NEA a terrorist organization, what does it make the Utah legislature, where its House of Representatives voted 64 to 8 not to comply with any provisions of the law not fully financed by the federal government? And how are we to categorize the Virginia House of Delegates, which voted 98 to 1 to ask Congress to exempt Virginia from the law?
Ten other states have passed or are considering similar "terrorist" legislation. They include diehard Republican conservatives rebelling because the law is a monstrous unfunded mandate – the very thing Republicans used to complain about. President Bush said in his campaign opener to the Governors Association: "I know in my heart of hearts it's the absolute right role for the federal government – to provide money, but insist upon results. ... And (if the schools don't pass), there will be special help to make sure they do."
Except, as we find repeatedly with this administration, that's a bait-and-switch con job. For 2005, the administration has requested $9.4 billion less for No Child Left Behind than the bill supposedly ensures. Title I, the program to help poor kids, is underfunded by $7.2 billion, leaving 5 million kids without academic help. In all, Bush has underfunded the No Child bill by a total of $27 billion since he signed it with such fanfare.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES