Common Sense & An Open Mind

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    "You must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision." T. Jefferson

Will we all be Left Behind?

Posted by Free to Think on November 25, 2009

Tonight I am frantically packing, wrapping and baking. Before dawn tomorrow I head to Philly to take my father for his chemo treatment, then Thursday my family gathers at my sister’s to celebrate Thanksgiving as well as Hanukkah, since we won’t all be together again until after the holiday. But, as a tribute to my son, editor-in-chief of Common Sense and an Open Mind, I am taking a moment to post a quick article in honor of his 23rd birthday today. He’d like to see me post more often but, perfectionist that I am, I have a dozen articles in the works which I insist to tweak and contemplate.

So,  here are some brief thoughts to leave you with until after the holiday:

Yesterday I read an article in our local paper about parents and educators from a neighboring town who got together with our state representative to discuss the repercussions from the ‘No Child Left Behind’ laws.

Yet another example of government’s gift for creating euphemistically-titled laws; how could any caring, compassionate human being have objected to this act when it was passed back in ’02? This bipartisan-supported bill was “based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.”

But seven years later, the regulations invoked by this law have been highly criticized, charged with not only failing in its goals, but causing children to lag behind even more. Meanwhile modifications to NCLB have been put on the back burner (i.e. have been “Left Behind”) in congressional committees for the past several years.

According to my local paper, “parents and teachers expressed myriad frustrations with the current state” of our schools, and feel that NCLB has made it impossible to be “responsive to the concerns of the community.” They charge that valuable instruction time for every student is guzzled up with testing preparation in a suburban town where few students are in jeopardy of not reaching minimum grade level requirements. The time, effort and resources of mandated testing has led to the elimination of enrichment programs.

Yet in inner cities where many students struggle, educators are also complaining. They find fault with a system that gives financial incentives to label students as “special needs” (in order to receive more funding), and that neglects students who would like to strive beyond basics skills or the narrow mandated curriculum. And since the federal government imposes punitive measures on schools which fail to make adequate progress in meeting district goals, many school districts have simply responded by lowering their expectations.

Most grievous to some, the federal government is currently paying just 7% of the cost associated with their mandated Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, well below the 40% promised when the law was first passed. This leaves towns to foot the rest of the bill, destroying local education budgets. NCLB does not require any programs for gifted and talented students, or for art and music, so those are typically the first programs to be cut.

If you have children in school, have recently graduated from public school, are involved in education in any capacity, or ever read the newspaper, much of this may not be new to you. The disconnect that I just don’t understand is that the same people who are criticizing NCLB are often in favor of a national healthcare program. Does it take a rocket scientist to see that politicians and bureaucrats are not the ones who should be micromanaging our children’s educations, health or welfare? It is difficult to understand that one-size-fits-all mandates eliminate our freedom and our choices? That it’s impossible to see all the implications of any centrally-designed system?

The free market works for car, life and homeowners insurance because we have more choices.

Health insurance is cheap in some states. In others it costs as much as the lease on a Ferrari. This isn’t because of any flaw in the free market. It’s because we don’t have a free market! What we have instead are laws that reward special interests and insurance companies.

The average medical plan in New Jersey costs $37,164 per year. By comparison, Indiana has far fewer corporate welfare mandates dictating what health insurance must cover. People in that state can choose between 43 plans costing less than $5,400 annually!

If the New Jersey family could buy medical insurance from an Indiana provider, they’d save over $31,000 a year!

One study indicates that this simple reform would make medical insurance instantly affordable for 12 million uninsured Americans.  Let’s do away with tax incentives that make it necessary to get health insurance through employers, and open up the health insurance market to out of state customers like every other industry!

Capitalism isn’t perfect, but if you think the government can’t make healthcare much, much worse than it is,  just start reading this article from the beginning.

Below is one report on the subject. Perhaps we should send it to Obama, who seems unaware of any alternatives but a government takeover.

http://www.hsinetwork.com/National_Marketplace_7-21-2008%20FINAL_Blind.pdf

If you feel this is important, please send a letter to your senator demanding that he vote against the healthcare bill until further study is done.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving, and hoping you all have much to be thankful for. I know I do. And happy birthday, son.

One Response to “Will we all be Left Behind?”

  1. Allan Shuman said

    Well that’s certainly an eye-opener if true. Indiana is that much cheaper than New Jersey? I’ll have to have my daughter “Snopes” that out for me to see if it is.

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