Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bush on NCLB- Ten Years Later

Time Magazine, January 23, 2011.  Andrew J. Rotherham gives us George W. Bush in his own words on the tenth anniversary of "No Child Left Behind."

Bush: "So I'm pleased with the progress and concerned about efforts from people in both parties to weaken it."

Rotherham: "What do you think is driving those efforts?"

Bush: "Some on the right think there is no role for the federal government in education.  Some on the left are saying it's unfair to teachers--basically, union issues.  People don't like to be held to account."

Both parts of Bush's response define a clear divide among first, left and right politics regarding education and second, the yet-to-be-labeled opposing sides in the education reform debate.

First, if we could make policy with all of our biases on the table, perhaps everyone would understand each others goals a little better.  But, I have a hard time accepting policy decisions made by those who have limiting the government role in public education as their primary goal.  What better way to pull the government out of education than to convince the American public that money spent on public education is money wasted?  If successful in this effort, any number of agendas are guaranteed (vouchers, school choice, private/public charters).  I gravitate away from conspiracy theory, but when those who wish to undo the system play a vital role in making policy for the system, bad things are likely to happen.

Second, I do like to be held accountable.  It makes me a better person.  I learned long ago that one of the best ways to avoid bad practice is through openness.  Letting others in on what's happening in the classroom.  Parents, administrators, peers, all serve to hold me accountable for what I do.  I don't like thinking that I've been doing something ineffective, but I do appreciate knowing that I've done it versus continuing to fail without ever realizing it.  This statement indicates that Bush begins with the understanding that I want to teach in the shadows, without any oversight or input into my work.  If you believe that I'm this type of person, then you probably don't respect me enough to listen to my professional opinion.

I don't think Bush or any of the corporate reformers want to be held accountable.  It's like when your zipper is down, or you've got food on your face.  I like a person with the courage to let me know so that I can avoid further embarrassment.  I suppose some people prefer to go through the evening not knowing any better.  Instead of listening to feedback (they'd prefer to call it complaining), corporate reformers prefer to demonize the source of the feedback-- teachers, who stand behind protection of their unions in order to protect themselves from having to do honest work for honest pay.

How have we devolved to this national narrative that teachers who care enough about children to spend hours of time with them for average pay are the one's who are holding our children back while profit driven reformers and corporate educational companies pushing for more testing and accountability are the great hope for our public school system?

(I recommend this great reply from John Spencer's Education Rethink to the Time article that accompanies the interview)


  1. As for this comment: "you probably don't respect me enough to listen to my professional opinion."

    Yeah that about sums up how I feel. :)

    Nice post.

  2. What amazes me is that he answered every question without making up any new words. Truly impressive.

    "Is our children learning?" he once asked.

    I think the answer is pretty evident.

  3. I never enjoyed Bush administration, but as a person i love his attitude!Teaching Feedback Form