Bush was right about school reform and the educrats were wrong again, writes Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Look at any reform that has boosted student performance — phonics, direct instruction, English immersion — and the chances are, the educrats were against it.
When parents revolted against whole language — which teaches children to read language as a whole, without teaching them to decode words — the educrats argued against a return to phonics, which they dismissed as “drill and kill.” When reformers pushed for tests that could show which curricula worked best, educrats denounced testing. If children steeped in phonics scored well on reading tests, they were not impressed; it is because the children were brainwashed, not literate. And if whole-language learners scored poorly, well, it was because they were so creative.
When Bush and company demanded accountability, they complained that standards would hurt poor children — as if undereducating poor and minority students didn’t hurt poor and minority kids.
“Educrats are scrambling to make sure that no credit goes to President Bush or his No Child Left Behind program,” Saunders writes. Standards and accountability started in the states — including Bush’s Texas — before being enshrined in federal law.