16 February 2009

Our Children Left Behind

Back some time ago, I made four predictions. Two of them have already made subtle-but-noticeable appearances: the public debate (such as that can be) on Luis "The Larva" Fortuño's obvious (to Me for so long) lack of leadership and... skip down a bit. This deserves its own paragraph.

From a highly-placed source in Our local Department of (Mis)Education, there's a frantic kerfluffle going on to assuage and appease the Federal Gods of Funding who are eminently irate at Our heinous lack of progress under No Child Left Intact... I mean, No Child Left Unscathed. Uh, Behind.

It appears that time is running out on options to keep Our (mis)education system out of federal control, as the NCLB statutes apply. That NCLB is to education what salmonella is to peanut butter is beside the point; the point here is that billions of dollars, an entire educational system and the integrity of Our country to manage its own internal affairs in its own way are about to become stink bombs.

Why an entire educational system? Because We, in Our infinite(simal) wisdom, decided that centralization of educational control was best, at a time when the rest of the world was decentralizing and becoming more efficient. Take a heavily-politicized, historically-inept government agency, add layers of ding-dongs to an already-crowded lamebrain jug band while smashing them into one huge mess and then toss in several billion dollars for motivation and it's a freaking miracle We still have schools.

So instead of 14 schools, or 22, or 41 facing sanctions for sub-standard Annual Yearly Progress, Puerto Rico has over 730 schools that fail to make the passing grade. That's 47% of Our total public schools, despite a per-student infusion of federal funds that exceeds nearly every State of the Union.

A handful of Our schools (24) have been under AYP levels for 7 or 8 years. That's every year of the ridiculous NCLB act, but when you play by the rules (by taking the federal money), then you have to abide by the rules. Close to 420 schools have been sub-par for at least the last four years. And of the "acceptable" schools, more than half are within 5 percentage points of falling (no child left) behind.

That the No Child Left Behind act is a disaster is, at this point, beyond debate. It turns education into a "downward push for acceptable standards" that is simply stupid. If the same standard applied to baseball, strikeouts would now take 5 strikes, or maybe 6, you know, so the players won't get those awful "K"s in the box score...and Our team can look better!

No, that's not the issue here. The issue for Us is that We are on the verge of becoming the (sub)standard by which federal control of a state's (territory's) educational system is measured. We--Our children--will become the poster children for "too stupid to learn well," a patently false label that nonetheless will stick for years to come. That the standards are stupid is obvious; that Our children are not will be much less so. The criminal stupidity of Our "education" leaders will (continue to) haunt Us for years.

And that's what We get for putting up with heavily-politicized, historically-inept (mis)education system, that for decades added layers of ding-dongs to an already-crowded lamebrain jug band and then smashed them into one huge mess that proceeded to misuse and mishandle and mismanage billions of dollars over the past 20 years.

[Insert "F" word here.]

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you said, especially the decentralization part, but now what? I think many people have come to the same conclusions, but what can we do about it?

How can we possibly fix this mess?

What discreet steps can we take to pull our public education out of the sewer?

I spend some time each week in prison visiting the results of our broke-dick education system. The kids are generally respectful, smart, motivated (how else do you sell drugs?), talented, and eager. They are definitely no worse than our so-called elites, and dare I say it - maybe even better?

But what do we do now? Our treasure is being squandered, incarcerated, and tossed aside. Are we impotent to actually do anything about it?

If I had the ear of the education secretary, what would I tell him?

GCSchmidt said...

It seems that every time I come up with some new angle with which to analyze Our situations, you throw more work on My desk. Okay. I'll tackle this one next week and who knows, maybe I WILL have a chance to bend the ear of the Education Secretary in the near future...