October 28, 2004
Our schools cannot afford four more years of Bush
By Michael W. Apple
We have now had four years of Bush educational policy. By nearly any measure, we are worse off now than before. Bush has been the Rhetorical President on education--promising much, but delivering very little.
He has supposedly reached out to communities whose students are less well served by our schools. But if you examine what he has actually done, he has nearly guaranteed that working class and poor children will not have the kind of education that will make a real difference in their lives. His economic policies and budget cuts have created such a deep financial crisis in school districts throughout the nation that crucial programs are being dropped and essential staff being laid off. And his uncritical support of vouchers and privatization nearly guarantees that our public schools, one of the cornerstones of a functioning democracy, will ultimately get less funding.
The disrespectful way he has treated teachers is almost scandalous. Under his watch, the Secretary of Education has even called socially and educationally committed teachers “terrorists.”
At the university level, he has tried to close down important research-based resources on effective schooling, has changed the funding basis of research so that studies that meet the test of his administration’s ideological screen benefit. He has even manipulated and consistently mis-used scientific data to suit his chosen ideological commitments.
His major initiative, No Child Left Behind, has been anything but successful. Indeed in state after state it has acted as a straight jacket, making it even more difficult for schools to succeed. This should not surprise us, since in spite of the efforts of his spin-doctors these kinds of policies were tested out in Texas and failed.
What has he given us? A horrible budget crisis in schools systems, higher rates of dropouts, rising class sizes, bad testing and unresponsive curricula, attacks on teachers and on the very idea of a truly public school: These are the hallmarks of his administration. We cannot afford another four years.
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