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Volume IV, Number 3, March, 2006

The Harsh Bigotry
of Bad Policy

By Jamie McKenzie (About Author)

It seems that neither the President nor his Ed Secretary understand the meaning of the word bigotry since they routinely practice it in the way they try to force their untested ideas on schools across the land.

Definition of Bigotry
The state of mind of a bigot; obstinate and unreasoning attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
Webster Dictionary

The President and his Ed Secretary are quick to attack NCLB opponents as bigots.

Their own misguided, risky and unproven NCLB change strategies are damaging minority children in such harsh ways that their accusations ring falsely.

Downgrading the quality of education for millions and driving millions of children early from school makes them the true bigots in the racial sense, an irony given their swift attack on all who challenge their policies - yet another form of bigotry as defined to the left of this passage, ". . . obstinate and unreasoning attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them."

The folks running NCLB/Helter-Skelter from Washington lack the talent, the credentials and the know-how to be dictating policy to schools and states. They are right wing policy wonks imposing simple-minded notions on our schools. See article, "Weighing the Pig: NCLB as Simple-Minded Con."

When their policy imperatives are challenged, they stoop to insults and play the race card, as did the Secretary of Ed in April of 2005 when Connecticut had the nerve to challenge the value of annual testing.

Interviewed by RAY SUAREZ of PBS in April, the Ed Secretary defended her inflexible insistence upon annual testing in the following manner:
MARGARET SPELLINGS: They tell us who needs help, they tell us who has been left behind, they tell us precisely and specifically in a good assessment system what kind of help is needed. They tell us what kind of teachers and what kind of teacher training is needed. And you know, I think it's un-American -- I would call it -- for us to take the attitude that African-American children in Connecticut living in inner cities are not going to be able to compete, are not going to be prepared to compete in this world and are not going to be educated to high levels. That's the notion, the soft bigotry of low expectations, as the president calls it, that No Child Left Behind rejects.
Source: PBS

Even though there is no research evidence validating the importance or worth of annual testing, the Secretary jumps to insult rather than addressing the merits of the Connecticut counter plan. Note article: "The Annual Testing Myth" at

Her real agenda is teacher accountability, a right wing strategy that amounts to the simple-minded notion that children learn to read better when we hold teachers' feet to the fire. Her main strategies for school improvement are fear, intimidation, humiliation, bribery and punishment. She cloaks these sinister measures in the language of compassionate conservatism which is nothing more than pseudo compassion and bigotry.

After several years of forcing a narrowly focused curriculum on American children, the Bush-Spellings educational policy has robbed these children of a full education without even improving the results on those narrow measures.

When his policies fail in Iraq or the nation's schools, the President claims progress and his Ed Secretary follows suit. They are quick to announce victory when none exists.

Unfazed by flat NAEP results (The National Assessment of Education Progress), the President continues to proclaim NCLB a success in the tradition of his "Mission Accomplished" speech on the deck of an aircraft career and his continued claims of progress in Iraq during March of 2006 as that country slips further into sectarian civil war. See article "Failing AYP at the Top" at

The Harsh Bigotry of Budget Cuts

The Bush budget cuts represent bigotry of the most extreme manner as support systems for disadvantaged populations are reduced so as to provide more tax cuts for the rich. See article "Leaving that Other America Behind" at

The Harsh Bigotry of Flawed Strategies

In addition, the seriously flawed NCLB change strategies are hurting minority children the most according to recently released reports from the Project for Civil Rights at Harvard:

The reports demonstrate that federal accountability rules have derailed state reforms and assessment strategies, that the requirements have no common meaning across state lines, and that the sanctions fall especially hard on minority and integrated schools, asking for much less progress from affluent suburban schools.

Inspiring Vision, Disappointing Results:
Four Studies on Implementing the No Child
Left Behind Act

Authors: Gail L. Sunderman, Jimmy Kim and Gary Orfield

The Harsh Bigotry of Untested Certainties

The Secretary's insistence on imposing unproven change strategies that meet her right wing preferences matches most dictionary definitions of bigotry:

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary states that a bigot is "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices."

Webster's defines bigotry as "The state of mind of a bigot; obstinate and unreasoning attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them."

Bigotry and intolerance, silenced by argument, endeavors to silence by persecution, in old days by fire and sword, in modern days by the tongue.
Charles Simmons

© 2006, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. This article may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.