Features » February 10, 2004
Go ahead, George, and lie to me. Lie to my dog. Lie to my sister. But don’t you ever lie to my kids.
Deep into your State of the Siege lecture, long after sensible adults had turned off the tube or kicked in the screen, you came after our children. “By passing the No Child Left Behind Act,” you said, “We are regularly testing every child … and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing.”
You said it … and then that little tongue came out; that weird way you stick your tongue out between your lips like the little kid who knows he’s fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat. I saw that snakey tongue dart out and I thought, “He knows.”
And what you know, Mr. Bush, is this: You’ve ordered this testing to hunt down, identify and target for destruction the hopes of millions of children you find too expensive, too heavy a burden, to educate.
You know and I know the testing is a con. There is no “better option” at the other end. The cash for education went to eliminate the inheritance tax, that special program to give every millionaire’s son another million.
But, you’ll tell me, you took tests as a youth. I know you did. And you scored on the Air Guard flight test 25 out of 100, one point above too dumb to fly. But you zoomed past the other would-be flyboys. They were stamped, “Ready for ’Nam.”
And you took a test to get into Yale. And though your pet rock scored a wee bit higher than you, your grandpa on the Yale board provided the “better option” that got you in.
The ugly little irony is this: The core of No Child Left Behind is that struggling children will be left behind another year. And another year and another year.
You know and I know that this is not an educational opportunity program—because you offer no opportunities, no hope, no plan, no funding. Rather, it is the new Republican social Darwinism, educational eugenics: Identify the nation’s loser-class early on. Trap them, then train them cheap.
No Child Left Behind is of one piece with the tax cuts for the rich, the energy laws for the insiders, the oil wars for the well-off. Someone has to care for the privileged. No society can have winners without lots and lots of losers.
And so we have No Child Left Behind—to provide the new worker drones that will clean the toilets at the Yale Alumni Club, punch the cash registers color-coded for illiterates, and pamper the winner-class on the higher floors of the new economic order.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2003) and Armed Madhouse (2007), and the newly released Vultures Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores (2011). Palast has won the George Orwell Courage in Journalism Award his investigative reporting. His stories have been published in many newspapers and magazines, as well as broadcast on the BBC and Democracy Now! His website is at www.GregPalast.com.