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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No absurdity left behind in our schools

Article published Oct 14, 2007
By Lane Filler
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2007
Earlier today, President George W. Bush made an announcement that stunned educators and legislators across the nation: Sports proficiency will now be included in "No Child Left Behind."

"For too long, struggling children have been told they can't achieve the highest possible goals in sports, and that negativity has become a self-fulfilling prophecy," Bush said in a noon news conference.

"With my plan, all of America's children will be dunking basketballs, running 100 yards in 12 seconds, bench-pressing 250 pounds, boxing 12 rounds and hitting an 80 mph fastball by the year 2014," Bush said.

"Are these high standards? Yes. Are they impossible? No. We're living in a world of global competition, an era of new demands, and the failed athletic programs that trap children in a cycle of slow running and strikeout after strikeout can no longer be accepted as the norm."

"What about the severely physically handicapped? Would they be included?" a veteran newsman asked Bush.
"Yes, they would," Bush answered. "We're not going to lower standards, and we're not going to tell America's children they can't achieve. What we are going to do is make sure every child has access to the finest coaches and facilities possible, as well as the most modern training methods, so that they can reach proficiency."

"What about quadriplegics?" another reporter queried.
"No Child Left Behind means just that," Bush responded. "Not one. We will, if necessary, grind the whole of the educational establishment to a screeching halt and make it stand there, tapping its foot, while the slowest among us struggle to catch up.

"That being said, we have put in place alternative testing for the most severely mentally handicapped 1 percent of students in each school. We will do the same for the athletic tests so that, for instance, an armless, legless child would not have to take the boxing test but instead would show proficiency in self-defense by biting or vomiting on an opponent. It's not one-size-fits-all."

As for what will happen in schools where less than 100 percent of the students meet athletic proficiency standards by 2014, Bush said, "They'll be classified as failing and lose funding, as will the districts that serve them. We're not going to leave a child behind in sprinting any more than we would in reading. I believe any child can cover 100 yards in 12 seconds, and we will make that happen, even if, in the case of the most severely disabled students, we have to shoot them out of cannons."

If you think what you just read was the silliest of satires, consider this:
u According to U.S. Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw, kids who arrive here from other countries speaking no English get a reprieve from the standards. For one year. After that, it's grade-level proficiency or bust.

u According to Lin Mackechnie, Lowcountry outreach director with the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, teachers are frequently "trying to get them (severely handicapped students) to answer questions they cannot relate to at all," in order to do testing that is absolutely mandatory, tracked by the state and used to define adequate yearly progress for schools and districts.

The hope of No Child Left Behind is that any child can soar. The reality is that some can't, at least not in a mainstream way.

Unless, of course, we're willing to shoot them out of cannons, just to feed the political circus.
Reach Lane Filler at 562-7218

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