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Bush Profiteers collect billions from NCLB
At this meeting, the Business Roundtable CEOs agreed that each state legislature needed to adopt legislation that would impose "outcome-based education," "high expectations for all children," "rewards and penalties for individual schools," "greater school-based decision making" and align staff development with these action items. By 1995, the Business Roundtable had refined their agenda to "nine essential components," the first four being state standards, state tests, sanctions and the transformation of teacher education programs. By 2000, our leading CEOs had managed to create an interlocking network of business associations, corporate foundations, governor’s associations, non-profits and educational institutions that had successfully persuaded 16 state legislatures to adopt the first three components of their high stakes testing agenda. This network includes the Education Trust, Annenberg Center, Harvard Graduate School, Public Agenda, Achieve, Inc., Education Commission of the States, the Broad Foundation, Institute for Educational Leadership, federally funded regionally laboratories and most newspaper editorial boards.By 2000, many states legislatures, however, were balking at the sheer size and scope of what corporate America was demanding. The Business Roundtable took note of this resistance when publishing, in the spring of 2001, a booklet entitled Assessing and Addressing the "Testing Backlash": Practical Advice and Current Public Opinion Research for Business Coalitions and Standards Advocates. My guess is that the timing of this renewed effort to "turn up the heat" involved getting federal government into the act by aligning the federal educational policy with the Business Roundtable’s state-by-state strategy.
Not only do working class and poor students, especially those of color, not learn to read and write, they don’t learn the kinds of skills that would allow them to challenge the direction the Business Roundtable CEO’s are taking this country. Throughout American educational history, there have been educators and activists who have argued against education as merely legitimizing the sorting of students into job categories. Some have created schools based on the joy of learning, or the need for students to be life-long learners. Others have created schools that taught students how to be active agents of social change, or to be skilled citizens in a democratic society. One effect of high stakes testing, one that I am sure the CEO’s are pleased with, is that the historic public debate over what the goals of education should be, a debate going back 2500 years, has been eliminated. Instead, raising tests scores has become an end in itself...
In the early stages of the Presidential campaign, I watched Gore, in Dallas, make a speech on education to a group of African-American mayors, in which he tried, without much evident conviction, to cast Bush's record on education in a bad light. Sandy Kress was there to run an after-the-speech spin room for the Bush campaign, which entailed publicly opposing the Presidential candidate of his own party. The intense loyalty of Bush's close aides can be startling -- is there something there that they see and we don't, or do we see Bush more clearly from a distance than they do up close? In one of my conversations with Kress, when he was talking about an early Bush maneuver on behalf of the bill -- nothing terribly unusual, just chatting up some members of Congress -- a wave of emotion came over him and, with a murmured apology, he started to cry.