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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 27, 2005 / 18 Nissan, 5765

Leave no blame behind

By Clarence Page


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My wife is sitting on a gold mine, I tell her. She's a part-time creative writing teacher in a District of Columbia public high school. She comes home with stories more shocking, poignant, bizarre, scandalous and hilarious than I have ever seen on "Boston Public" and other TV dramas about the traumas of high school.

I was particularly touched by what she heard one day from a 16-year-old girl from "Southeast," which is how Washingtonians refer to the poorest section of town. "Ms. Page, you come to every class, don't you?" she asked. "I never had a teacher who came to every class before."

No, the sad thing about some teachers is that they don't take their job as seriously as they should and their sloth is protected too often by their union, which is only doing what unions are supposed to do, protect their members.

Unfortunately, a system that rewards mediocrity inevitably penalizes those who encourage excellence. I applaud dedicated, self-sacrificing teachers like those who saved my life. Today, such dedication is often squashed by spirit-killing public school systems.

Such anecdotes may never turn into the Oscar-winning script, I imagine, but they do come to mind as I examine the lawsuits and other objections that more than 30 states —including some Republican strongholds—have kicked up recently against President Bush's No Child Left Behind education reform law.

The National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union and a leading critic of No Child Left Behind, and eight school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont, sued the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday. They accused No Child Left Behind of violating a federal law that forbids the federal government from requiring states to spend their own money to enforce mandates Washington has imposed on them.

Hours earlier, Utah's very-Republican legislature cited the same grounds in passing a bill that requires educators there to spend as little state money as possible in carrying out the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Connecticut's attorney general two weeks earlier announced his state's intentions to sue the Department of Education on the same grounds.

I also have criticisms of No Child Left Behind. The law's one-size-fits-all approach on setting national education standards is treacherously simplistic. It flies in the face of what just about every parent realizes: Every child learns differently.

And the law's standards for learning disabilities are unfairly narrow. For an administration that opposes racial or gender quotas, Team Bush is remarkably eager to impose quotas on how many of a school district's students can be judged "learning impaired."

One significant example is Bush's home state of Texas, which is engaged in an ongoing dispute with U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, another Texan. Texas has exempted 9 percent of its students from regular state achievement tests on the grounds that the schoolchildren are learning impaired. Spellings has agreed to exempt as many as 3 percent of students in each state.

But, imperfect as No Child Left Behind may be, I'd rather stick with it and try to improve it than replace it with nothing—and nothing is precisely what too many of its critics are offering as an alternative.

As much as I quarrel with some of Bush's policies, at least he took his own campaign promises about education seriously. He stepped up to the plate in the manage-by-objective fashion of other Harvard Business School grads and set a clear, achievable goal: Make every student in the country proficient in reading and math by 2014.

That alone caused much snarling and gnashing of teeth from critics. But, as little as Bush may be known for soaring oratory, his best quote in my memory was his criticism of "the soft bigotry of low expectations" for our public school students.

And who knows? Just as it took President Richard M. Nixon to open the doors to communist China, it may take another conservative Republican like Bush to kick-start national education reforms.

After decades of fighting for equal educational opportunities for the poor, national Democrats and too many civil rights leaders have become extensions of the teachers unions, falling into a self-defeating pattern of lock-step support of more funding without more accountability from teachers and administrators.

The result, too often, is a school system that spends more per student year after year and has less to show for it. Somebody could make a heck of a movie out of that. Unfortunately, as they say in Hollywood, tragedy doesn't sell.

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