My Temperature Is Still Rising - By Joe Batory

Posted June 12, 2005 - You can respond to this posting using the guestbook at the end.

I have just completed 36 evaluative public school visitations in “Philly” as part of my work for Temple University. I’ve seen neighborhoods and living situations about which Washington politicians have neither a clue nor a care!  I feel a lot like Jonathan Kozol, America’s most powerful writer about the underprivileged (don’t miss his Amazing Grace & Savage Inequalities). I am filled with anger these days at the governmental apathy and neglect for the “other America”  and for the resulting violence and inequality and injustice that pervades our urban centers. Meanwhile, politicians tell us over and over that “we can’t just throw money at schools…” yet those same pious elected officials appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a strange never ending war in Iraq, wasting the lives of so many of our young soldiers and so many Iraq civilians as we “root out” weapons of mass destruction that were never there and as we avenge 9/11 in spite of the fact that not one terrorist on that terrible day in New York was an Iraqi.  I heard someone say that all of this is like Franklin Roosevelt deciding after Pearl Harbor to attack Mexico. Insanity at its Washington best!


See if you can read my temperature from the diatribe below!


 No Politician Left Behind


By Joseph P. Batory, Education Author and Former School Superintendent (Upper Darby, PA)


Adapted from his second book, Joey’s Story, published by Rowman Education (Lanham, MD, and Oxford, UK, 2002)


The United States Congress and the president have unilaterally imposed all sorts of demands on public schools via the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  But if these elected officials were really interested in improvement initiatives, shouldn’t these politicians also have set some accountability standards for themselves?  In the interest of fairness, here are some recommendations for a parallel No Politician Left Behind ActAfter all, what’s good enough for schools should be good enough for elected officials. So here are the requirements for those mostly white men in our legislatures and our executive branches, members of America’s most exclusive clubs, who wear those $500 suits, spend lots of time in their private clubs, and do not have a financial worry in the world. God bless America. And God bless the No Politician Left Behind Act!


The New Law


1. Each politician who wishes to speak about public education must first provide proof of his or her having made meaningful visits to public school classrooms for observations and conversations with teachers, administrators, parents and students.  It’s time for policy makers to touch base with reality.


2.  All future education legislation must be addressed to the needs of public school students rather than political party agendas.  Teachers, administrators, parents and students will no longer be excluded from government planning for educational improvement.


3.  All elected officials must begin to use their own brains when thinking about public education rather than following the dictates of biased think tanks and other anti public education interest groups.


4.  High stakes standardized testing programs (such as those imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act) will be deemphasized in favor of an educational agenda that moves beyond test score results and truly addresses quality education for all students.


5.  Responsible leadership from government will finally begin to address the needs of America’s vast underclass.  The percentages of poor people, infant mortality and illness, daily violence especially in urban areas, and numbers of families without health insurance in the United States far exceed those of almost all other Western industrialized nations.  


And most important of all, for political accountability…


6.  A standardized test will be administered to all elected officials to determine their grasp of the complex issues of the public education system and its diverse student population. Each politician will then be classified using their test scores (just as they have done to schools) in the news media using NCLB language:


E.G. --- “Has Been Warned” …  “In Need of Corrective Action”  …  “In Need of Improvement”  … “Should Be Removed From Office For Restructuring!”


In summary, there has been too much hollow lip service paid to public education by a government that is far removed from the real world. A huge population of Americans live below the poverty line, without health insurance, and often, without hope! It’s time to move beyond simplistic standardized testing programs as panaceas for public schools.  It’s time to start listening to the people who live and work in the public schools every day,  And its time for America to adequately finance what truly counts and will make a significant difference for the better for ours schools and the children they serve------universal preschool education, remedial and enrichment courses, school based before and after school programs, creative staff development for teachers and administrators, technology initiatives, school building modernization where necessary, fair share basic and special education funding, and smaller class sizes.


Joe Batory has received the prestigious LIFETIME DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD from the American Association of School Administrators. He was also named as one of the top 100 school administrators in the United States.