Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, September 28, 2012

Former Bush Speechwriter Calls Opponents To NCLB Villains And Racists

Leave it to Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter who penned the infamous (and infamously dishonest) "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" line in Bush's "Let's Invade Iraq" speech to the U.N., to pen some more propaganda today in the Washington Post on education reform.

He uses the film "Won't Back Down" to explain why those who are opposed to No Child Left Behind and to parent trigger laws are "villains" and racists:

The new movie “Won’t Back Down” is to public education what Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was to the meatpacking industry — a needed spotlight, but not for the squeamish. In this case, the product unfit for human consumption is, unfortunately, the instruction of children. The movie chronicles the struggles of the mother of a dyslexic child in a failing school. The villains are clock-punching teachers, apathetic parents, change-resistant union officials and unreachable administrators. The movie adds a happy ending, which seems the most unrealistic portion of the script.

Gerson goes on to complain that the No Child Left Behind waivers handed out by the Obama administration have watered down the proficiency targets created by the Bush administration and Congress when No Child Left Behind was put into place.  He never mentions how the NCLB waivers actually require MORE testing and MORE accountability than the old NCLB law, since high stakes tests will now be added to every subject in every grade, K-12, and teachers themselves will be "held accountable" for these scores via their evaluations.  He never mentions how Obama's Race to the Top program has helped bring about a nationalized curriculum with nationalized standardized tests in every subject (something the Bushies at the USDOE could only dream about.)  He mentions but dismisses the "turnaround rules" for "failing schools" as too flexible and not rigid enough - even though NYC may see over 100 schools closed and turned into charters by 2015 under the guidelines of this rule.

And then comes the "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" lines Gerson is so proficient at:

The coalition that passed No Child Left Behind consisted of strange bedfellows — civil rights groups fed up with educational failure and business groups hoping for more capable workers. The bedfellows intent on overturning high standards are even more unnatural — conservatives opposed to a federal role in just about anything and an educational establishment that has adopted a policy of massive resistance to effective accountability.

What is most shocking is the utter lack of urgency. The “parent trigger” approach depicted in “Won’t Back Down” — permitting parents to take over and reorganize failing schools — would seem a minimal response to an educational emergency. But the general reaction of federal officials, governors and legislators of both parties, school administrators and unions is to loosen standards and lessen pressure for reform. They are simply assuming that a separate and unequal educational system for minorities and the poor is inevitable and that a generation of children is expendable.

The villains in this story are even broader and stranger than fiction. And a happy ending is far from assured. 

 So if you're opposed to No Child Left Behind exactly as it was passed and signed into law, you are a "villain" who is "assuming that a separate and unequal educational system for minorities and the poor is inevitable and that a generation of children is expendable."

This from the man who wrote the "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" line intended to fool Americans into thinking we had to invade Iraq or suffer a nuclear attack on the homeland from Saddam Hussein.

How dare Michael Gerson, the man who contributed to the deaths of over a million people in the Iraq War by helping to sell that abomination to the people of this country, smear anybody opposed to NCLB, to high stakes standardized testing, to an education system based upon something other than meaningless (and often funky, funked with or, as in the case of Atlanta and Washington D.C., outright fabricated) data as "villains" and racists.

If Gerson wants to see a villain who assumes a generation of children is expendable, he can reread the Iraq War speeches he crafted, visit the Iraqis left maimed from that war, and then take a look at his own passport photo.

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