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Hillary Clinton Nails Bush Administration on the NCLB Racket

by Pamela Leavey

With the Bush administration, everything is a racket, as they labor to bring in Republican firms to privatize government agencies and programs. Think FEMA. Think Halliburton. Now, think about all those offers for “free tutoring” that kids in public schools get from private companies. In New Hampshire on Friday, Hillary Clinton “criticized the Bush administration for outsourcing teaching to private tutoring companies, arguing that many firms have close ties to Republicans.” Hillary is on the mark with this:

This is Halliburton all over again,” the New York senator said.

The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to provide free tutoring in math and reading to poor children in schools that repeatedly fail to meet state testing standards. Clinton said that amounts to $500 million a year being paid to tutoring companies and other supplemental service providers that aren’t held accountable.

“Nobody’s looking over their shoulder. And we’re not really seeing results,” she members of the National Education Association’s New Hampshire chapter.

“Why would we outsource helping our kids to unaccountable private sector providers?” she said. “They don’t have to follow our civil rights laws, their employees don’t even have to be qualified, they aren’t required to coordinate with educators, there’s a grand total of zero evidence that they’re doing any good.”

From what I can tell as parent of public school high school senior with a 3.9 GPA, there is no watch dogging of this either. Kids with good grades get solicited for “free private tutoring” as well. No doubt these private firms get paid by the head, and as Clinton points out, “It’s not enough that there are no-bid contracts that are taking money away from our troops not delivering services to them in the field, now we have these contracts going to these cronies who are chosen largely on a political basis, and we have nothing to show for it.”

One Response to “Hillary Clinton Nails Bush Administration on the NCLB Racket”

  1. (Utah recently enacted a school voucher program, and I wrote this in reaction. I called it “Some Children Left Behind”.)

    The “school choice” thing is fun. I notice that I’ve never seen a proponent admit that we are a society that evolved from government providing no education to one with government offering education to all. Clearly, it’s easier to argue that we became who we are because we invented public schools, than to argue that our vast wealth and power arose in spite of having done so.

    Liberals are crusading for using government to provide universal health care. Conservatives place a similar priority on “privatizing” education.

    Medical care for the well to do in this country, while breathtakingly expensive, is the best on earth. The poor receive basic medical care at the hands of government. The “working poor”, meanwhile, make do with a smile, an aspirin, and a bowl of chicken soup. You might think that conservatives would understand why a progressive society would not want to see education become stratified the same way.

    We pay far more for medical care than the people of any other country have ever been asked to pay. Meanwhile, our medical care outcomes, on at least a number of measures, don’t rank well. The fact that we pay more for less is apparent to all now, but conservatives still resist a larger role for government in guaranteeing that everyone can have at least a reasonable level of medical care. While this approach is good enough for the rest of the civilized nations on the planet, for us to try it is labeled as un-American. Well, we’re currently passing through an era where “American” is quickly coming to mean “stupid”, so maybe conservatives are right on this one.

    On education, the biggest knock so far is that kids today don’t necessarily leave school with the same skills that were valuable for past generations. They may very well be doing far better at leaving school with the skills that are going to be important for helping to create the future, but things never seem to be talked about in those terms. Nor is there enough attention paid to the fact that every kid could learn more even in the present system if parents would accept a greater role for themselves.

    Conservatives want someone to teach their children better, without having to put a burden on their own time. Nor do they want to keep paying a fair share for the current system, and pick up the full cost for the upgrades they desire for their own kids. Typically, they get very selfish in this area and want the best education they can afford for their own kids, without the burden of having to worry about the big picture.

    All it will take for this country to realize the blessing that we gave ourselves by inventing our current public education system will be for us to allow the right wing to continue leading us down the road of dismantling it.