President Bush's answer to school systems that pass students like Dorian on to the next grade year after year was "No Child Left Behind." It demands that states test students, and it establishes consequences for schools whose students consistently do poorly. Teachers in at least one South Carolina school responded to the pressures of the law by giving some students the answers to the test in advance, said Dale Hammond, grandmother of one such boy. "They were teaching him to cheat!" she told me.
She promptly pulled her grandson out of that government school and enrolled him in private school, but most parents can't afford that. Once you've been taxed to support the public schools and other wastes of public money, you don't have a lot left to spring for private school tuition.
But there is good news, said the state school's superintendent: South Carolina is seeing great progress in some areas. "We are ranked No. 1 in the country," she bragged, "on improvement on SAT."
That's great. But when you're ranked at the bottom, improvement doesn't mean much, and South Carolina, even after its "No. 1 improvement" is still last among states. SATs don't make for perfect comparisons because states have different participation rates, but South Carolina's participation rate is about average, and yet its students perform well below the average.
That's not good. Yet the superintendent said, "We are making tremendous progress in South Carolina, and we're very proud."
In government monopolies, that's how bureaucrats think.
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