There is no doubt that Bush’s attempt to deflect discussion of jobs by talking about No Child Left Behind didn’t work. And Kerry did a great job calling him on it. But I think it unfortunate that Kerry chose to focus only on the costs of NCLB. Not only does it make Bush look good — his having actually raised education spending significantly, but it avoids discussing what every parent in America knows: NCLB is a failure.
Howard Dean did it better:
While the ideals espoused in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) are admirable, the realities of the Bush plan are not. NCLB imposes rigid and expensive mandates on public schools. It judges adequate yearly progress using a one-size-fits-all formula, a measure that gives schools an incentive to lower testing standards in order to meet federal requirements and, sadly, to push out students that may bring down a school’s average score. Under these new standards, 26,000 of America’s 93,000 schools “failed” to make adequate yearly progress in 2003 and many are not receiving the additional support they need to improve.
This federal takeover of public education is the last thing we need. I never understood why Washington politicians think they can design a cookie-cutter policy that will work for all local schools. Parents, teachers, and school boards need resources and support, not Draconian measures that set them up for failure.
Even Jeb Bush is unhappy with NCLB. I guess Kerry didn’t want to look like he didn’t support “reform” or “standards” or “improving education” or whatever else he would be accused of if he attacked NCLB.
Here’s a post I wrote on NCLB last year.
UPDATE: David Neiwert has an excellent post on NCLB:
Bush’s remarks reflect someone who sees workers and jobs as portable commodities, and has no sense whatsoever of the pain inflicted by policies that eviscerate the nation’s manufacturing capacity.