Hog-Slopping Politics; Federal Bureaucracy Part of Education Problem

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 16, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Hog-Slopping Politics; Federal Bureaucracy Part of Education Problem


Byline: Deborah Simmons, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A headline in The Washington Post yesterday caught my eye. "Shaping the Future," it said, "To Ensure the Health of Young Trees, Gradual Pruning can pay Dividends." That, I thought, is precisely what lawmakers and policy-makers should keep in mind when deliberating on education.

Sadly, what the powers that be call good public policy is often no better than the slop my great-granddaddy used to feed the family hogs in Buena Vista, Ga.

It's a hard-knocks life for children who grow into weeds or worse, a runt, instead of growing into a sturdy, shady oak. The lack of a solid educational foundation, as statistics have proven over the decades, leaves America's children and its economy deformed.

President Bush, Ted Kennedy, Rod Paige, Bill Bennett and others had hoped the ambitious No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) would give the proper pruning to America's children. The truth is America's public schools continue to churn out runts because the folks who have the power to change things won't change things.

The federal government keeps sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.

The folks we sent to Washington got around to holding a hearing this week on the 5-year-old No Child Left Behind Act. Nothing startling happened, which is a bit disappointing considering both the battle cries we heard before passage of the legislation and the contentious rhetoric we've contended with since.

There are as many opinions on NCLB as Carter has little liver pills. Perhaps even more. Several came forward on Tuesday, the day that the folks we sent to Washington held a joint House-Senate hearing on NCLB. Because the 2008 presidential election booms as Washington's loudest newsmaker, I was eager to hear what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had to say.

But a deafening silence remains.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and, as aspirants cut from whole Democratic cloth, they are trying their best to outdistance each other in their runs for the White House. Where each stands on education is as important as where each stands on taxes, law enforcement and other domestic issues.

Yet these two senators (along with Democratic buddy Chris Dodd) were mum on Tuesday. Mr. Obama didn't even bother to show up for the hearing. As for Mrs. Clinton, she might as well have stayed away, too, because even though she was in attendance for part of the hearing, she was MIA. Mrs. Clinton, as Education Week noted yesterday on its Web site, "remained uncharacteristically silent and did not stay for the entire hearing."

No give-and-take, no off-the-hip remarks. Not one scintilla of we've-come-too-far. No Barack or Hillary to say it takes a village or yada, yada, yada.

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