One Nation Left Behind



“One Nation Left Behind” Campaign

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Without a good education, children are left behind.  Americans understand this.  Yet, most do not acknowledge, in the United States, very few young persons receive quality instruction.  American children do not learn to think critically, creatively, or comprehensively in comparison to those in other countries.  Even students enrolled in excellent schools do not excel as children elsewhere do.  Internationally, the information published in a 2002, United Nations Children’s Fund, [UNICEF] study exposed a frightening truth; America pupils and schools receive poor grades when student performance and instruction are assessed.  Today, the American education system remains at risk.  As a recent report reinforces, today as we observe our offspring, we must consider the necessity of change.  It is time to make Tough Choices (in these) Tough Times.  This nation, left behind, must commit to teach our children well.

As adolescents, an individual who was not taught to analyze autonomously may do well.  As an adult, this same person will struggle to survive in the workforce.  While he or she may do well in school, as adults, people learn there is more to life than test taking.  Once out in the world, each of us receives the lesson rarely taught in the classroom, or at least one that is not taught as well.  Without the habit of hale and hearty intellectual activity, opportunities to expand in life are few.  A diploma deficiency can also make daily doings difficult.  Service jobs, which require little creative, innovative, and imagintive thought, will be all that is available to one who learned only how to prepare for and take tests.  

Accountability, while a noble concept, when calculated with abundant disregard for intellectual curiosity, quells a society’s greatest need.  The future is found in our youth.  Sadly, in recent years we, as a country have counted on tallies to tell us whether our children have learned.  In today’s schools our young acquire some, selective knowledge.  Teens and tots have mastered the methods necessary to improve Math, Science, and reading scores.  At least, the little ones have worked to secure these skills.  

In classrooms throughout the country, our offspring memorize and mechanically mouth the “facts” our ancestors discovered long ago.  Very few are instructed to think beyond what others in the past believed were the boundaries.  Unlike ancients who questioned accepted theories such as the Earth is flat, our progeny are trained to consent to a construct that may not be correct.  In America, people are so confident that what is currently considered the truth is accurate; we do not encourage our children to explore.

Moms, Dads, mentors, and the policymakers, who tell educators what to teach, confine children to rooms where dictums are delivered.  The statements, “Answer the question,”  “Do not ask why,” and “Do not turn the page” dominates the current curriculum.  “Silent.  Test in progress,” is a sign that hangs from many a door in educational institutions.  Pupils are told to mark a Scantron™ or bubble the circle in completely.  The only query frequently heard in American schools is, “Do you have a number 2 pencil?”

Boredom sets in amongst students whose minds crave creative activity.  Disheartened and dejected, millions of potentially scholarly pupils, dropout.  Intellectually, emotionally, and physically our offspring have dropped out in droves since No Child Left Behind was introduced in this nation’s schools.  However, this program is but an extension of a trend put in place by politicians who wish to embrace the popular notion, people must be held responsible.  Teachers, learners, and school Administrators need to document the acquisition of knowledge.

In today’s society, the focus is more on scores, tallies, totals, than it is on the child.  Hence, examinations are used to make high stake decisions.  In America, an evaluation administered on any given day in the life of a little one, determines whether a student is an achiever, or ultimately a failure.  A child’s school career can be crushed hours after he was told his parents would divorce, her father passed, or someone he or she loves is seriously ill.  

The statistics show that in the more than seven years that this policy has been law we have seen that a “high-stakes accountability system has a direct impact on the severity of the dropout problem.”  

The “original” premise behind the No Child Left Behind program or any plan that dictates a child must quash curiosity in favor of existing “factual” documentation is “Schools and students held accountable to these measures [standardized, high-stakes, test-based accountability] will automatically increase educational output.”  However, in a report titled, “Avoidable Losses: High-Stakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis,” researchers reveal . . .

The reality is far different.  The findings of this study show that the accountability system itself is complicit in the very losses it claims to reverse.  The losses are avoidable, but not while this accountability system governs schools.

Perhaps, the possibility of better days and an improved instructional methodology is the reason educators have rallied ’round the Republican Convention and rolled out an unprecedented proclamation. America is One Nation Left Behind.  A nonprofit alliance “dedicated to increasing the dialogue about the state of public education in the United States” hopes to garner the attention of gadabouts, Convention goers, and government officials.  

Strong American Schools or representatives of this organization, also participated in the activities in Denver during the Democratic National Convention.  They understand politicians in each Party were, are, and will be responsible for reform, or the lack of change in the nation’s curriculum.

While sensitive to the source of the No Child Left Behind program the Grand Old Party President, George W. Bush, seasoned educators and experts in instruction are aware, Democrats also helped to hand down the decree that has destroyed American schools.  A bipartisan commitment to calculations over curiosity closed the doors to many an American mind.

That said, perchance, aware of the support for standardized educational plans amongst Republicans, this organization led by Roy Romer, a former Colorado Governor and Superintendent of the Los Angeles County Schools, chose this week to prominently share what they believe must be an essential message in a Presidential election year.  

Strong American Schools, the group behind the ED in ’08 campaign to boost debate about education in the presidential campaign, has a full-page ad in this morning’s St. Paul Pioneer Press that bluntly says, “Our schools are failing.”

The ad, in the newspaper’s special news section on the Republican National Convention, displays a ranking of national flags showing the United States as 21st in the world in science. (The fine print cites several assessments, including two from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.)

“The countries with the best schools attract the best jobs,” the ad says.  “If jobs move to countries like Finland and South Korea, your child’s opportunities dry up. And so does our economy.”

Although, most Americans claim the economy is the most important issue, in the first Presidential political debates, not one of the aspirants who wished to sit in the Oval Office mentioned education reform.  Those who vied for the presidency did not think it vital to speak of our students, or the American school system.  Citizens, perhaps trained to be apathetic, did not voice what must be a deep-seated source of distress if the United States is to grow truly successful children.  Curriculums must encourage  critical thought.

In the initial televised Democratic and Republican conversations with Americans, there was no mention of what citizens do not wish to consider.   In education, America is not number one.  This country is ranked at 21.  Internationally, in twenty other countries a higher percentage of students graduate from High School.  Seventy percent of eight-graders do not read at grade level.  Ninety-three percent of Middle School Science instructors are not trained in the discipline they teach.  The United States is the only developed nation to have a zero percentage increase in the number of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees awarded.

What those who wish to give birth to a strong America believe is, if America is to thrive, as a community, we must act on our awareness.  Children must be encouraged to think for themselves.  Elders must place education first if this country is to be number one, two, or even three.  Indeed, where the United States ranks on a scale is not nearly as significant as what we teach our children.

If this society is to succeed, Americans must embrace education for the Seventh Generation.  Each of us must prepare our progeny to be critical, creative, and curious thinkers.

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.

~ Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American Author, Editor and Printer.

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.

~ Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) American Psychologist

Education, properly understood, is that which teaches discernment.

~ Joseph Roux (1725-1793) French Cartographer and Hydrographer


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School Supplies and Sources . . .

Lady Clinton

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Throughout the ages, life has been but an allegory for the Shakespearean drama Macbeth.  When people observe the strength of a wedded woman, they wonder.  Might she be the spouse behind the man?  Couples whose passion for power burns brightly may be reminiscent of those who perform in the tragedy played out on many a theatre stage.  A pair, married partners, in the present, may be as characters in a revival of the this best-known of William Shakespeare’s tragic productions.  The tale, written in centuries long past, often evokes reverie of today’s truths.  Only the characters differ.  

If this dramatic piece, were to be performed today, possibly, Hillary and Bill Clinton would be cast as the main characters.  The two are slightly more modern, and a bit less morose than the actors in years gone by.  

Pray tell or protest; Hillary Clinton and husband Bill have captivated an audience.  Spectators ruminate on what is no longer a rumor.  The Clinton family, who may have temporarily surrendered or suspended a campaign for the White House, will stand center-stage throughout the Democratic Convention.  Indeed, Barack Obama, the man many believed was cast in most powerful role in this play, may have learned what others never doubted, the mesmeric Clintons never go away.  

This couple can coerce concessions and compel compromise.  The two can kill with kindness or cause carnage with finesse.  History harkens back.  Bill and Hill have slain mighty dragons.  They also enthusiastically destroyed darlings.  It seems the desire for absolute power invites this prominent pair to act with intent.

About a decade ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton persuaded the American public of her purity when she stood by her man.  Not long after, she charmed citizens of New York State.  Lady Clinton convinced her constituency she was not a carpetbagger.  As she planned for a Presidential campaign, the supposed fragile female showed a hesitant public, she, Hillary could stand strong with the soldiers.  Now, several say the New York Senator has served admirably on the Hill.  

Some may ask, what of Bill.  Did the former President not bring us peace and prosperity, supporters inquire?  In her stump speeches, Lady Clinton avows, indeed he did, she did.  They did it together.  The duo, brought this country back from debt and a deficit too great to fathom.  Surely, this couple is not corrupt, or coercive.  They have given the audience, Americans a reason to believe that they are altruistic.

Softly swayed by seemingly selfless actions, those charmed by the Clinton charisma do not recall that the Clintons helped to create the financial debacle the electorate now experiences.  An audience content with celebrity, dazzled by a drama, and grateful for fiscal favors sees no reason to reflect upon what might have been had the Clintons not repealed the Glass-Steagall and Bank Holding Company Acts.

Today, there is no time to ponder in retrospect.  The play, even a revival is new.  The time is now.  Hence, observers only wish to move on.  Those who watch this most recent reenactment of Macbeth might muse; just as the beloved monarch King Duncan was murdered, metaphorically, Barack Obama has been essentially eliminated.  What was to be his climatic performance, will be but a whisper in the wind as Lady Clinton, her husband Bill, and child Chelsea deliver their lines.  Truly, what is scheduled to occur could be classified as theatre of the absurd.

Granted, the Presidential hopeful may naively believe he chose to do as he did,  However, those who have been victim to the marvels of a magnificent manipulator and her husband know, the presumptive nominee has been played for the fool.  Senator Obama was deceived into thinking he prevailed.  In truth, Barack Obama is victorious in name only.  

We know not how long his triumph will last.  Lest the audience forget.  This theatrical production is as it has been since the primaries began.  It is a tragedy.  Barack Obama is but a pawn in this drama.  Lady Clinton was and is confident; the Illinois Senator can be moved and maneuvered!

The wondrous woman from New York understood this from the first.  She did her research.  Hillary Rodham read Barack Obama’s most recent book, the Audacity of Hope. .  As she perused page after page, the studied First Lady Clinton could not contain her excitement..  Senator Clinton saw more than she could wish for.  Her rival, the man who could deprive her of her dreams admired her husband.  Even more helpful, Senator Barack Obama genuinely thought well of her.  

In his prose, Barack Obama often spoke highly of the pair.  When Mister Obama spoke of either of the Clintons, he was complimentary.  Indeed, Lady Macbeth, or the former First Lady Clinton had the presumptive nominee in her clutches before she even began to coddle a relationship.  Hillary recognized, she could use his adulation of her, and her husband, to her advantage, and so she has.

The woman, who on rare occasions was “too full of the milk of kindness” knew that in her fervor for supremacy, she could call for dark forces to “unsex” her and fill her with “direst cruelty.”  Hillary Clinton acknowledged that if she felt it necessary to gain control, she could.  She would do whatever needed to be done.  The former First Lady could be wily, clever, and keenly manipulative.  Barack Obama, she grasped before the Presidential campaign began, would be putty in her hands.  It was there, in print, as if etched in blood.  Deeply felt veneration cannot be easily washed away.  This benevolent soul, Senator Obama, would not be a brutal opponent.  He could not crush the Clintons.  Barack Obama had too much respect for the twosome.

Hillary Clinton understood long before the final days of her Presidential bid.  What most thought a loss for the Clintons, was in some regards, a gain.  Indeed, as Hillary Rodham would reflect further, she determined, her defeat might be a gift.  The public and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama might feel great compassion for the woman who almost won.  

In fact, during a debate Barack Obama smiled and said he expected Hillary Clinton would be among his advisors.  Some thought he had her in his grips.  However, it was then Hillary knew, with greater certainty; the Illinois Senator could be played like a violin, or a harp cradled gently between her thighs.  

The former First Lady saw his weaknesses, and she, as a master at manipulation,  could and would use the vulnerabilities Senator Obama exposed over and over again..

She did so, even on that night.  The American audience may remember.  It was Scene One, Act Two, when Lady Clinton responded to the remark that she might serve as his counsel.  Seemingly stunned, Hillary smiled.  She laughed with a lilt in her voice.  Her face may not have revealed the joy in her revelation.  Hillary Clinton knew, she could, and would conquer.  She, with the help of Bill could reduce her rival to tears, or destroy his will to dominate.  In her heart, Hillary Rodham was sure she would survive, and perchance be President.  Pooh-pooh the naysayer.  The Clintons would prevail, of this the Lady was convinced.

When Bill expressed his distress, and asked what if they did not succeed in their attempts to demoralize and destroy the opposition, Obama, the former First spouse reassured her husband.  She said, to his inquiry of what if were to fail, “We fail!  But screw your courage to the sticking-place, ?And we’ll not fail . . . What cannot you and I perform upon the unguarded Duncan or Obama?”  A man unaware is always defenseless.

The frailty of faith found in the exaltation expressed by Barack Obama whenever he spoke of the Clintons helped Hillary to  achieve her success, or at least hold the possibility in her hand.  Today, former First Lady Clinton is assured her name will be placed in nomination on the floor at the Democratic Convention.  Tomorrow, Hillary Clinton may secure the votes necessary to anoint her as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

For years, the talk has been telling.  “She is stronger, more ruthless, and more ambitious than her husband.  Women, the play implies, can be as ambitious, and cruel as men.  Yet, social constraints deny the feminine among us the means to pursue aspirations on their own.  Perchance that is why initially Hillary Clinton called upon her husband to help her campaign.  She needed Bill, or thought she did.  Then, in New Hampshire, she found her voice.  Once the New York Senator found herself, and realized her strength, she was able to do what Lady Macbeth could not.  Hillary Rodham could do away with her challenger and leave no trail of blood,.

Barack Obama maybe cast as the Democratic contender.  The Illinois Senator may presume that he won his Party’s nomination.  He could and would be prominent at the August Convention.  However, if this is his belief, he is mistaken.  Perchance, he has not had the opportunity to read the full script.  Senator Obama may not realize that he is but one in a cast of characters in a Clinton drama.

The Presidential hopeful could not have known how cryptic the character who appeared so genteel could be.  Nor did he have reason to realize how persistently tenacious the former President Bill Clinton was in actuality.  Prior to the primaries, Senator Obama may not have fully grasped, the change we can believe in occurred in 1992.  Nor could he have known the Clintonistas would contain any threat to their supremacy.  

Presumptive nominee Obama did not fully understand, once the Clintons took the stage, transformation, as authored by Bill and Hill would become a constant.  It continues, even on into Denver.  Ultimately, it seems Barry had to bow to the truth he referenced in his most recent book.  Hope was first born in a small town in Arkansas.  Its name was Bill.  Bill brought along Hill.  Each gave birth to Chelsea.  The Clintons, now a complete set of auteur, will author any change we can believe in.

Barack Obama was not the one who had the courage to make dreams come true.  Hillary Clinton with the help of Bill holds the honor.

The Clintons would have it no other way.  In the past, the former President has proven himself formidable.  His First Lady fearless.  Neither will accept no for an answer.  They never said die before, that is unless the death of others, even children, would benefit them.  Nor would the two, or  three, think to go away quietly now.  The theme adopted by this dynamic duo has always been “Yes; we, he, or she can!”  Inevitably, they do.  Today, once again, the masterful directors of this delicate drama, Hillary and Bill showed us all, they believe, and they achieve.  

A presumed loss in the Democratic primaries does not deter her or his confidence.  They are the Clintons, passionate and powerful.

Each trusts the climatic conclusion in this comic tragedy remains hidden.  The audience does not suspect; indeed, they love the suspense.  Hillary has yet to deliver the monologue penned in the final manuscript.  When Lady Clinton is ready, she will reveal what she knows to be real.  The catharsis will be realized when the crafty  Hillary Clinton stands alone as the hero.  The speech will not be as the one she delivered when she mocked her rival Barack Obama.

Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified.'” . . .

“The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.” . . .

Her words will be beautiful and brilliant.  For Hillary has “lived a little long[er]” than Senator Obama.   She has “no illusions about how hard this is going to be” to realize her dream of dominance. “You are not going to wave a magic wand to make special interests disappear,” she told a crowd of delighted supporters  months earlier.  Hillary has no desire to have those who funded her campaigns  vanish.  She can control the Capitalists, just as she directs the Democrats. Even the esteemed Barack Obama, who some say is now the Democratic Party leader, can be brought under her spell.

After all, this drama has been carefully staged, produced, and directed by the sly Hillary Rodham Clinton.  This clever Lady can tame the shrewd, or symbolically slay a mild-mannered man name Barack Obama.  She has clout and ultimately, in this performance she will retain the crown.  She has her wily ways to convince the people of what she wishes them to believe.  Please review the research.  Pew.  For the People and the Press.

If Hillary wanted her name placed into nomination, it would be done.  If the Presidential aspirant yearned for a delegate vote count, so be it.  Keynote speeches from her husband, daughter, and herself, in primetime, of course.  The Clintons came.  They dominated. They conquered just as they always have.

Since Bill and Hill first stormed onto the Washington scene, there has been one drama after another.  With the Clintons in the White House, in the Senate, or in the political theater, Democrats have been mired in melodrama.  No one, not Barack Obama, least of all Barack Obama, can escape Clinton escapades.  The presumptive nominee is now the focus.  Hillary and Bill envision Senator Obama as the flawed hero.  The Illinois Senator must fall.

Infidelity, imprudence, impeachment, and improbabilities, all the stuff of dramas.  Bill and Hillary have realized all.  Implausibility  and improbability; these are the Clinton signatures.  

Today, it was announced. The next step in the comic tragedy would occur. The expected Obama coronation would be canceled.  Hillary, Bill, and daughter Chelsea would appear at center stage.   The Clintons could be expected to perform as no one in history has.

The former Presidential candidate, her husband, and daughter would be allowed to perform at the Democratic Convention.  Each was offered a prominent place on the playbill.  The three would deliver keynote speeches; regardless of the fact that none were the presumptive Democratic nominee.  Once again, Bill, Hilary, and Chelsea are the main characters on stage.

As the Denver Democratic convention approaches Americans are again in awe of what the Clintons create, chaos!

For days we, the people have heard Clinton campaigners clamor.  Her name must be placed on the short list.  She must be on the speakers’ panel.  Finally, those who love Hillary insisted, the candidate’s name must be placed into nomination.  Hillary has to be honored; the Denver Group demanded.  After all, the New York Senator did receive eighteen [18] million votes, regardless, of the veracity of intent.

The Presidential aspirant, Lady Clinton, said, a catharsis is necessary.  A week ago, the female Clinton told a small gathering that she is in negotiations. This sharp-witted Senator would not be stymied.  Nor would her devotees be dissuaded.  Democrats for Hillary would be able to vote for the candidate of their choice at the Denver convention.

“It’s as old as, you know, Greek drama,” she said. “There is a catharsis. I mean everybody comes and they want to yell and scream and have their opportunity, and I think that’s all to the good.”

For Hillary, and husband Bill it is.  Good is realized when history does not hearken.  When mesmerized by memories of times gone by the public does not question what was in the past.  Good, is when Lady Clinton and President Bill can call upon friends who benefited from bank laws rescinded to create a fervor.   Good is when the presumptive winner of a nomination loves your legacy more than he wishes to create his own.  Good is the greatest drama revived.  It is all good when Lady Clinton is in the limelight.

Clinton and Lady Clinton References Revisited . . .