Much has been said about the inequities of the Bush administration’s education reform, popularly known as No Child Left Behind. Critics contend that the approach is designed for failure but how can you object to the simple premise: Every child can learn? Teachers protest that the standards are unreasonable but if they were so unreasonable, why did Ted Kennedy sign on? So called education experts protest that the program was never fully funded but the legislation does not prohibit teachers from contributing a portion of their salaries to the educational process -- perhaps a nice private school or a faith-based tutoring program. Furthermore, where public education cannot measure up, private education (unencumbered by mandatory testing and accountability standards) can readily fill the gap.
Now that we have had a chance to see the program in action, it is time to stop the partisan bickering and accept that it has been a resounding success. Our children can learn and our teachers can achieve higher test scores if given the proper incentives. Every year our educational system is producing more and more students properly qualified for entry-level positions in service to our country. What more can we ask?
Yes, our children can learn and among their lessons are American values: fear of God, patriotic duty and respect for authority.
Inspired by the unprecedented success of No Child Left Behind, it is high time we expanded the approach to government itself. After all, who can deny the simple premise that all governments can govern well?
We therefore call on our national leaders to drop this nonsense regarding social security and tax reform in favor of a massive new program, with a proven ideological track record, that we can all support without trepidation: No Citizen Left Behind.
The goals of this bold new initiative will be simple. Within five years:
1. All American citizens will earn an average income or better.
2. All citizens will gain access to adequate health care and medical services.
3. All communities must fall below the national average for air and water pollution, crime and unemployment.
4. All communities must climb above the national average on independent measures of living standards and quality of life.
5. The nation as a whole must exceed international standards of developed nations for education, quality of life, clean air and water, medical and health care, civil liberties and human rights.
What government could honestly object to such common sense standards? Remember: Given half a chance, all governments can govern well. If they can do it in Oslo and Copenhagen, surely we can do it here.
Of course, establishing goals would be a futile gesture if there were no means to objectively measure our progress in reaching them. Therefore, all governments will be required to devote no less than one quarter of their resources and time to comprehensive self-evaluation. To facilitate the accountability process, we will provide an extensive list of acceptable private institutions and corporations capable of making these assessments, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Stanford’s Hoover Institution and, of course, Halliburton.
Finally, for any program to take effect, there must be an enforcement plank. In keeping with the well-established principle of “tough love” (remember the boot camps for troubled youth? well, they’re still there), governments failing to achieve objective measures of progress on consecutive years will be subject to a stiff regimen of sanctions.
First, floundering state and local governments will be subject to reforms, including mandatory rehearsals and focus group sessions on how to explain and defend the austerity approach to social welfare. Second, upon a third year of failure, automatic recall elections will take place. Third, if failure continues, the floundering governments must pay for the relocation of its citizens to successful states and communities.
In the event that the nation should fail to meet its own standards (inconceivable as it may seem), constitutional modification may be required but the consequences should be similar. Americans, faced with a failing nation, will have the right to relocate at government expense to the successful nations of their choice.
In lieu of these consequences, governments may of course choose to abolish themselves -- or rather convert themselves to private corporations.
Some may be concerned that an absence of government would abolish democracy itself in favor of anarchy or corporate fascism. Mindful of these concerns, we commissioned several studies by unimpeachably independent sources and they assure us this is not the case.
To the contrary, we are certain that all Americans will embrace this bold new approach to good government. After all, who can deny the simple premise: All governments can govern well? How can anything so simple be wrong?
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II. The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, FirstPeoplesCentury, Trinicenter, Global Research and other notable sites. The Jazzman Chronicles are available at City Lights Bookstore in SF. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
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