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NCLB Outrages

Look at Who Likes NCLB

Ohanian Comment: Now who do you think wrote this:

All told, I like NCLB, and there are quite a few liberals out there who would agree with me.

a) Rod Paige
b) Ted Kennedy
c) Mother Jones blogger

Say it isn't so, MoJo. For starters, what are this fellow's qualifications for pronouncing on education?

Andrew Rotherham has an important take on the Armstrong Williams scandal in today's New York Times. It's not just that the Bush administration paid a pundit $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind act. That's bad enough. But what's worse is that the White House is continually undermining all potential support for the program:

Meanwhile, liberal Democratic stalwarts like Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative George Miller gamely resist efforts by groups like the teachers union to gut the law's accountability requirements. The stream of almost entirely avoidable problems and Department of Education gaffes makes it even harder for Democratic supporters of the law to resist the pressure.

Repealing a law passed with broad bipartisan support is usually an uphill struggle. In this case, however, the law's critics enjoy a powerful ally: the Department of Education. It is nearly impossible to buy the sort of bad publicity the department has lately been giving away. The new secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, should focus on getting the policy right, and let the public relations take care of itself.

All told, I like NCLB, and there are quite a few liberals out there who would agree with me. The program's not perfect by any means—for starters, it badly needs better mechanisms for dealing with those schools that are failing—but it's a good first step on the way to preserving and strengthening the public school system. And yet… and yet the program will only work if teachers and teacher unions and education bureaucrats all commit to the program, all "become believers and see the positive side, rather than see it as a law that's out to get them," as civil rights leader William Taylor puts it. But so long as the administration is out there paying off journalists, cutting programs to "pay" for deficits, and toying around with the regulations, they're never going to earn that sort of trust and support.

— Bradford Plumer, blogger
Mother Jones


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