Fools On The Hill

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Capitol Building

Usually  when the GOP led house passes a bill, its not for the greater good. There's generally something in it for the rich or privileged, but it's not the kind of thing that will be for the good of the masses. Other times, when they pass a bill, it's to add restrictions to personal rights and borders on/cross that line of constitutionality.

That said, today the dunderheads of the House passed a  bill -- not a good one -- but one that might actually lead to an important change in the way our country supports education.

Jim Abrams, of the AP reports:

House Republicans on Friday passed legislation outlining their vision for national educational policy to replace the No Child Left Behind law. The measure would give state and local governments greater powers to determine how best to improve schools and would sharply reduce federal involvement in education matters.

Notice this paragraph begins that this was passed by Republicans.  Not a single Democrat voted for it and 12 GOP's voted against it as well.  The reason is simple. It's a poorly conceived bill -- at least in what the bill provides.  Less.  And this isn't a case of less is more.

But it's a step in the right direction.

High School

But No Child Left Behind (NCLB), like the Patriot Act, the Iraq war vote and so many other laws/bills were flawed and rushed through for political expediency. They were knee-jerk reactions with little thought to details and considerations of the equal elements of harm that they produce as a bi-product. Bush's NCLB (impossible to call it his brain child and ignore the fact he suffered from Scarecrow's disease) on face value sounded like a fine idea. But it took away incentives for doing well, for excelling. It put the onus on test scores (and the companies who administered those bogus exams). It didn't take into account personal achievement, and when that's reduced from our everyday incentives, you get the watered down masses. There were teachers and companies hired and secretly rewarded with various perks just to ensure that schools and students would pass or attain a certain level of test score. This was done regardless of whether any educating went on beyond the exam. We were creating a generation of "one-trick ponies."

Learning isn't just a spelling test where students are given the answers and then given days to memorize them. With NCLB, learning was ignored unless it was the specific answer to a test score.

When my son was 18 months old, I taught him that 7x6=42.  That was it. He didn't know what it meant, just that when I asked him that one question, he would respond, 42.  All of my friends thought my son was a genius. He wasn't then and isn't now.  But that's what the NCLB program was doing.

The House bill has no chance of moving through the Democratic-led Senate as it is written. The Senate committee overseeing education has completed work on its own measure that would give states greater flexibility in writing their own plans to improve schools. But, unlike the GOP proposal, that bill would allow the education secretary to retain approval power over those proposals. Full Senate consideration of the measure is unlikely to happen before the fall.

The House bill would eliminate No Child Left Behind's testing and teacher evaluation systems, instead giving states and local school districts responsibility for setting up methods for measuring student learning.

There is a concept here that is very important. Doing away with the standardized testing results determining a teacher's benefits and a school's funding.

As the article says, the Senate will easily defeat the House version of the bill. But the fact that we're discussing education at all in Congress means we may find a way clear to feed a vastly undernourished belly of our growing country. We need to spend less in rewarding less. And more in rewarding more.  With this Student Success Act, one hurdle has already been addressed. No more NCLB. It's expired and it's not coming back. But the Democratic led senate has the momentum to adjust this bill and when it gets voted on by the Democratic Senate, with the proper fixes and wiser spending, we're going to see a shift to the education system that will potentially be as landmark as the original education bill mandating free public schooling through age 16.

There's a cusp here, and we're on the edge of it. Those whack Republicans didn't know what they were doing -- they rarely do -- but this time they opened the door to a solid refinement to a bill that was dumbing down America. We're moving ahead for a change.

So let's hear it for the Fools on the Hill.

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