Bill Maher, who can be very funny when he’s not being too angry, voices his opinion on No Child Left Behind and how it relates to the "Texas miracle" in the Sunday Houston Chronicle. The column has few laughs but a whole lot of good points.
We weren’t really improving the system [in Houston schools], but we were improving it where it matters: on paper. It’s not for nothing that all Texans looked up to Enron. When Bush ran in 2000, Houston’s dropout rate was given as 1.5 percent. It’s been revised to 40 percent. Probably by the same guy who does the budget. Enron was gaming the energy futures; here it was the kids’ futures.
Not that every kid should go to college; I’ve always believed every kid should not. But every kid should finish high school, and if you call your law No Child Left Behind, it does take a special kind of Texas-size nerve to then treat those children like cards in a gin rummy hand, where you get to ditch the two low ones, and where bodies just disappear like dissidents in Argentina, or that Julia Louise Dreyfuss sitcom.
Our president has made speeches in which he chuckles at himself for being a C student at Yale University. Of course, given who his father was, he could afford to chuckle at it; falling behind would not really keep him behind. But the rest of us aren’t so fortunate. And as no one could tell you better than George W. Bush, we don’t all blossom early in life, so maybe writing off so many kids at 15 or 17 isn’t such a wise policy.
People say education is the cornerstone of our democracy — they’re wrong, of course, it’s campaign cash, and lots of it. But shouldn’t it still count for something? As the president himself might say, we can do gooder.