White Kids Can’t Read

The No Child Left Behind Act is a lot like the AIDs epidemic, or America’s drug problems, in that no one cared much about the damage it was doing until it started f-ing with middle-class white kids’ chances of getting into college. Now that Connecticut’s best public schools are finding themselves on the “Needs Improvement” list, maybe someone will finally get rid of this ridiculous relic of the dark Bush-era days.

Greenwich, Glastonbury, and West Hartford are all, I assume, mortified to have found themselves on the “Needs Improvement” list. Usually they can count on the over-worked, neurotic children of doctors, lawyers, and insurance executives to give themselves ulcers while studying for the SATs, and that’s still true, but thanks to NCLB these schools now have to account for the achievement –or lack thereof– of their “special education” students as well.

Of course, many of Connecticut’s (and the country’s) under-funded urban, and rural schools have had problems with NCLB for years. When most of your students come from homes where the family doesn’t speak English, or drink anything but Mountain Dew and Coors Light it’s hard to pass the arbitrary standardized tests set out for you by meddling government bureaucrats who know nothing about education. Luckily, though, the schools who have struggled the most may now benefit from the dumbing-down of America’s suburban youth. I can tell you, these kids parents won’t stand for being told that their children “need improvement!” Before you know it, they’ll forget all about denying health care to those who need it most, and will be storming the capitol, hanging NCLB in effigy.

One more point and I’ll shut up; when I was a student graduating from one of these high schools about 10 years ago a note had to be sent out with the transcripts of our graduating  class that basically said this:

Please do not hold it against John Doe that he is not at the top of his class, as this year’s graduates are a bunch of super-geniuses and the top 40 members of the class all have GPAs over 4.0. In any other school, Mr. Doe could have been among the best and the brightest, but here at The Super-Genius Academy he is merely an average student.

This isn’t good either. GPAs that are better than perfect? It makes no sense. But I do believe the children of CT, and America, are getting stupider. All you have to do is talk to one of them for a few minutes to figure that out (though, after seeing their parents protest health care reform it’s hard to believe that’s possible). In any case, though, the standards imposed by NCLB are obviously too rigid when you start claiming that a school district where kids start learning a second language in the first grade, and have lap-tops in their Taj Mahal classrooms have to “improve” while some schools are still struggling to get history text books that don’t claim the world is flat.