He Bravely Ran Away, Away, He Bravely Ran Away!

President Obama looked out into the future. He focused his gaze intently upon his own timeline of service. He noted that deadlines occurring on or before 20 January 2017 could potentially represent a standard by which his performance could be judged. One of George W. Bush’s recent initiatives, The No Child Left Behind Act, appeared writ large in Calendar Year 2014.

Not only was the NCLBA ALL BUSH’S FAULT,® but it also unified much of America. Conservatives hated it for failing to mandate school choice and spending lots of money we won’t ever have in treasury. The Leftists hated the law because it established measureable benchmarks and attempted to tie school funding to school achievement. The act actually attempted to punish schools that failed to teach children the so-called three R’s.

2014 stands out in the President’s mind with respect to NCLBA. By 2104, every American child must be brought to academic proficiency. The New York Times describes the standards under NCLBA below.

Currently the education law requires the nation’s 98,000 public schools to make “adequate yearly progress” as measured by student test scores. Schools that miss their targets in reading and math must offer students the opportunity to transfer to other schools and free after-school tutoring. Schools that repeatedly miss targets face harsher sanctions, which can include staff dismissals and closings. All students are required to be proficient by 2014.

This mandate has been unpopular with both the education profession and President Obama’s administration. There is a wide gap between doing something and receiving credit. This mandate required serious action, with dubious likelihood of creditable success. So the administration maps the plan for retreat. The NYT describes the approach to be employed.

A new goal, which would replace the 2014 universal proficiency deadline, would be for all students to leave high school “college or career ready.” Currently more than 40 states are collaborating, in an effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and encouraged by the administration, to write common standards defining what it means to be a graduate from high school ready for college or a career.

Like the Conservative Boogeymen I mentioned above, I don’t believe Croesus would have the treasury necessary to properly fund nationwide academic proficiency as a top-down educational mandate. Thus climbing down the ramparts on this particular battle may not be the worst course of action President Obama will pursue in Presbud 2010. However, the standardized definition of academic proficiency in NCLBA has legitimate good.

A standard definition of academic proficiency can baseline employers should have when interviewing and selecting high school graduates. They can serve as a measuring stick by which concerned citizens can evaluate the quality of service rendered by their local educational bureaucracy. It can help us all parent, if we agree socially that this standard is adequate and relevant to the world we operate in.

Yet our President handles this altogether wrongly. He doesn’t rescind any of the power the Federal Government now holds over local educational governing boards. He never mentions the possibility of rescinding future expenditures and paying off a few of our outstanding T-Bills. He just jettisons all the expectations and goals which justified the original imperialistic surjection of Versailles Upon The Potomac. He keeps the power and runs headlong away from the challenging goals.

In doing so, he reminds me of The Cowardly Knight in The Monty Python Skit. He likes the horses and armor. He has a squire to trail behind him and sing his praises. But when it comes time to actually put government power to the test and measure whether an arm of the US government is actually bettering the life of the intended recipients of the programs, He again reminds of the Monty Python concept of chivalry.

Brave Sir Robin ran away.

Bravely ran away, away!