Leave My Child Behind, Please

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"Let me tell you how it will be There's one for you, nineteen for me 'Cause I'm the taxman,

Yeah, I'm the taxman"

In typical political, 'for the children' fashion, our illustrious Commander-In-Chief gave us the 'No Child Left Behind Act.' The sales pitch is that it brings market competition to education. Honestly, you'd think the blood suckers in Washington would, at some point, be shamed into honoring their sworn allegiance to the Constitution after being caught with their pants down, literally and figuratively, over and over and over again.

The law of unintended consequences aside, common sense tells us that if you set out to create something, the first thing you get is the very opposite. For instance, if you were determined to become a patient person, you'd be certain to find yourself in trying circumstances. If you want to save time, you must first spend time in creating a system that works for you. If you want to make money, you have to spend it.

Maybe we should assume, for argument's sake, that creatures in government do have good intentions. Let's look at the record: Hiroshima , Nagasaki , Fallujah, Abu Ghraib , Viet Nam , the Trail of Tears, Waco , Ruby Ridge . . . these are just a few examples of the good intentions perpetrated by one nation's constitutionally limited government. I'd say it's a bit too late in the game for assuming the absence of malice.

'Don't ask me what I want it for If you don't want to pay some more 'Cause I'm the taxman,

Yeah, I'm the taxman'

Education and schooling are very, very different things. The parent-child relationship is normal, useful and truly educational. It is obvious to a serious observer that young children don't learn through information as adults do who have sought out such things. Children watch us eat, drink and walk, and imitate what they see. They hear us speak and mimic it. They're not punished if they mispronounce words. Parents find it cute and adopt the use of the child's humorous mispronunciations, and children correct themselves despite it. Children observe caring adults without duress, imitate and experiment through their own senses with the vital element of curiosity. This is a learning environment.

No bureaucracy can begin to meet the needs of a human child. Children are not little computers to be programmed by anyone. They are living, breathing, intelligent wellsprings of curiosity that require nurturing. William Hazlitt says: 'Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.' Like Rosemary's baby, the only thing the Washington Leviathan succeeds in producing with the NCLBA is yet another flesh eating bureaucracy. Do we stand idly by while the Department of Education devours our young?

Government schools are more like prisons than education centers. I can't imagine anything more out of place in schooling than humor or curiosity. They are punitive, petty, artificial, dangerous and destructive to a child's basic love of learning. With a stroke of its mandatory attendance pen, the government village is the new mommy. Should school shootings surprise us? I think we can expect more of it.

'If you drive a car, I'll tax the street, If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat. If you get too cold I'll tax the heat, If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.'

Schools have a purpose, but education is not one of them. One purpose is offering lifetime career opportunities to a group of good voters ' teachers. Beyond the schoolyard fence, teachers would not ordinarily have a market for their 'skills,' even if they didn't rank among the lowest GPA's of college graduates. John Taylor Gatto, a 25-year veteran of education, said that if what teachers do is so useful, they should leave the taxpayer-funded government monopoly, hang out a shingle that says 'Teacher,' and see how many customers they get.

The main purpose of the existence of government schools is to train young people to tolerate boredom, repeat other people's answers to rote questions, spy on their parents, absorb 'groupthink,' follow orders and most of all, to become good citizens and, through peer pressure, to conform. This is what's wrong with government schools, and NCLBA does nothing to rectify any of it. Even if it were possible to fix anything so intrinsically flawed, in good 'ole government slight-of-hand manipulation, NCLBA was never intended to right any real wrongs.

Reality of the nature of government schools is once again ignored and Americans are spoon fed yet another federal program that is somehow, through the force of taxation and additional regulation and bureaucracy, supposed to help disadvantaged children.

'Should five per cent appear too small Be thankful I don't take it all 'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman' I don't doubt that the powers that be really do want to catch all those little fish who manage to escape the dragnet. The question is, to what end? NCLBA may improve some statistics for whatever that is worth. If not, they'll just make some up, they do it all the time. It does pacify some do-gooders and gullible people who still fall for the GOP's conservative 'free market' rhetoric for a while. It may even make politicians feel good about having kept themselves busy. Is it just window dressing, or is it something more sinister?

I doubt anyone reading this would buy a house because it had pretty, new curtains in the windows, without looking past them to see that inside it was rotted out and adjust their offer accordingly. The masses, though, have proven they will buy anything that is stamped 'For The Children.' NCLBA is for the children, all right.

Once teachers successfully desensitize unsuspecting children into following orders without thinking, they are ready to be used for the ultimate state purpose ' cannon fodder. Military recruiters won't have to wonder how to find them, thanks to NCLBA. Military recruiters are given access to college campuses and to the names and address of our children. All hail the Military Industrial Complex and the unholy union between our government and defense contractors. (Pardon me, it's not nice to mention this administration's uncut umbilical cord to Halliburton.)

It is common knowledge that 'grunts' in the military are primarily comprised of the children of poor people with few options, not the children of the Bush, Cheney, Kerry or Gore clans. That reminds me of an old movie, 'Our Man Flint,' in which James Coburn is head of ring of thieves. He is the best pickpocket of the group and he is successful because as soon as he nabs a wallet, he passes it off to a cohort so that he's always 'clean.' I remember the line, it goes: 'Harry doesn't carry.' The children of powerful bureaucrats don't, either. But then, they don't attend public schools. In fact, public school teachers are more likely than average Americans to send their children to private schools and legislators are far more likely to do so. They can afford it with their snouts in the public trough.

If I believed in hell, certainly it would be the place that spawns legislation like the NCLBA. But then, most legislation from the past 200 years should go to hell. Government tries to control what you eat and drink. It regulates your healthcare, transportation and education. It controls what you are allowed to think, say, write or wear. It infringes your rights to bear arms and to be secure in your person and property ' sacred things that were intentionally, albeit unsuccessfully, initially placed beyond their reach. It does not hesitate to help itself to your money, your home and your life. Do you think it would hesitate to help itself to your child? It already has. NCLBA brings market competition to education like silence is brought to the lambs.

'Now my advice for those who die Declare the pennies on your eyes 'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman And you're working for no one but me.'

Lyrics from 'Taxman' written by George Harrison

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Retta Fontana's picture
Columns on STR: 53

Retta Fontana is an atheist, anarchist, baker, potter and parenting teacher.  Children are her favorite people.