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 Scarecrow Education ( Lanham, MD, and Oxford, UK, 2002)

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The United States Congress and the president have unilaterally imposed all sorts of demands on public schools via the questionable No Child Left Behind Act .  But if these elected geniuses were really interested in improving public education, shouldn't these politicians also have set some accountability standards for themselves?  In the interest of fairness, here are my recommendations for the No Politician Left Behind Act :

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 abandoned in favor of an agenda that truly addresses quality education for all students.

5.  Responsible leadership from government will finally begin to address the needs of America's vast underclass and educationally disadvantaged pupils.

And most important of all…

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. Politicians who fail this test will be classified as “failures” and removed from office!

In summary, there has been too much hollow lip service paid to public education by government in recent years.  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.

Joseph P. Batory - Philadelphia, PA - March, 2004

For a similiar view on the state legislature, click here.