Education Eugenics

Greg Palast 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​.Greg​Palast​.com.
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