Friday, March 02, 2007

Kind of the safety of mediocrity

Bush went to a school in Indiana today, to push for “standards” and “accountability.” For other people, of course. And definitely not for a surprise episode of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” Yes it’s time to renew the No Child Left Behind Act. He talked a lot about “measuring,” pretending that high-stakes testing is just a passive assessment. Bush said, “I know full well that to make sure a system doesn’t lapse into kind of the safety of mediocrity that you’ve got to measure.” Then he just sighed and whispered “the safety of mediocrity.” Dare to dream, George, dare to dream. “In life,” he went on, “if you lower the bar you get lousy results.” You know, I could say something sarcastic about George Bush coming out against lowering the bar, but that would be too easy, it would in fact just be lowering the bar for sarcasm.

He said, “Testing data has helped teachers tailor instruction. ... That’s why the act is called the No Child Left Behind Act. It doesn’t say ‘all children shouldn’t be left behind,’ it says, ‘no child.’” You just blew my mind.

He praised the school he was in for achieving the supreme pinnacle of success, an applause line during a presidential photo-op: “I appreciate so very much that this school has met state standards for progress under No Child Left Behind every year since 2002. Isn’t that interesting? (Applause.) Isn’t it interesting to be able to say that? You can’t say something that draws applause unless you measure.” Oh sure you can. Try this one: “Ice cream for everyone!”

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