Â Â Â Â The exact dates and circumstances are a little foggy now, but as I recall, when ‘my generation’ Â went to school, we didn’t tackle Algebra until, what? eighth grade?Â ninth grade?Â As I understand it, matriculating toddlers are now being refused entry into kindergarten and their teachers are being threatened with loss of prestige if the kiddiesÂ have not at least mastered the rudiments.Â MoreÂ disconcerting than that, some are suggesting Â that the workforce of the future be declared off limits to those who are not proficient in the advanced applications of the algebraic equations.
Â Â Â Â Who’d a thunk it?Â How the great generations ever managed to deliver vehicles and peopleÂ safely and accurately to the surfaces of celestial bodies, and return them intact,Â absent kids walking around with an abacus in the back pocket of their diapers is the $64,000 question, but they did.Â So it has been with some amusement to listen to the wailing that has gone on since the advent of K and pre-K at how our schools are failing and we just can’t compete anymore.
Â Â Â Â The reason I bring this up today is that the President, Mr. Obama, has come out in favor of dumbing down the requirements of the No Child Left Behind program.Â Less testing and more participation points and more ‘fun’. Â As far as NCLB goes, I was always skeptical about it in the first place.Â Another blast from the past:Â In my day, plenty of kids got left behind.Â Funny thing is, most of them did just fine.Â A lot of them staked out territory at the location on the highway where they were dropped off and made a life for themselves.Â Not a few went on to support not only themselves, but many multiples of themselves.Â Â See, Â Algebra II andÂ Advanced Multiculturalism aren’t for everybody.Â A few,Â maybe many more than a few,Â are waking up to that fact after our long nightmare.Â That’s not where Barack Obama is coming from, but more on that later.
Â Â Â Â The ins and outs of education aren’t really the subject of this post.Â Lord knows there are armies of PHD’s out there fighting the good fight for their favorite grant-supported proposals.Â But just in passing, does anyone recall thatÂ ”when we were comin’ up”, not only the teachers , but even we ourselves could tell who the ones were who were going places by the way they read?Â Yes, everyone needs to be able to read, but not everyone is able to pick up onÂ how Â to read well.Â Thinking, of course, is always optional, and the common sense quotient has yet to be devised.Â But to my mind, just teach the kids, after they have learned not to hit each other, how to read.Â Those who read well will do well, and those who just read will do just fine.Â I may be wrongly attributing this, but I think it was Bill Cosby, or some genius of color like him, who came up with that ‘Reading Is Fundamental’ mantra.
Â Â Â Â Returning to the President, he of course is pandering to a demographic or twoÂ in wanting to give credit to teachers and schoolsÂ just for students showing up.Â But if you will recall, the NCLBÂ program was universally acclaimed just a scant decade ago by each and every side of the aisle, partly because of the heart-tugging title of the act and alotly because of the sponsorship and effort to its passage delivered by the Lion of the Senate, the late Edward M. Kennedy.Â We all had to be accountable for the failings of the tykes to channel their inner Einsteins.Â And, in another aside, have you noticed that the grumblings about the deficiencies of NCLB have been reported in the media thuslyÂ – “George W. Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind policy”?Â It’s never “Ted Kennedy’s failed No Child Left Behind policy”, but then, this is still Kansas, isn’t it?
Â Â Â Â No, what I think is going on in the salons of the Progressive agendaites as to this education thingy, besides Obama pandering to the Teachers’ unions with “I feel your pain”, is that some in that crowd are waking up to the fact that the Compassionate Conservative, while not having all the logistics and methods worked out, was on to something in his ‘excellence in education’ meme as far as the tenets of competition and merit were concerned, and that Middle Americans, in many of their localities and districts, were beginning to re-learn the concept of exceptionalism, dare we sayÂ even ‘American’ exceptionalism?Â Now, if you’re aÂ hard-core lefty, that just won’t do, will it?Â So maybe a little course correction in the nature of this NCLB beastie is indicated in the minds of the collectivists.Â If you start letting cream rise to the top, pretty soon you’ll start having……cream.Â
Â Â Â If you’re of a Progressive bent and you want to keep on truckin’, you’ve got to watch those trends.Â Sometimes that old bleeding heart methodology and propagandaÂ can be turned around on you, even by those who don’t have as much ‘gravitas’ as you do.