When President Clinton traveled to Africa, black Americans rejoiced at the recognition. Poor President Bush practically bankrupted the treasury by spending on AIDS treatment in Africa. Just last week the Senate approved $48 billion over the next five years to treat Africans with the disease, on top of the $15 billion already committed. How much praise has Bush earned for this? Well, Bono (who received the NAACP's chairman's award in 2007) was able to spare a kind word, but the normally voluble African-American community has been virtually silent on the matter. One liberal magazine did offer this last year: "How Bush's AIDS Program is Failing Africans."
Some conservatives don't like No Child Left Behind. A recent report by The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, for example, argues that NCLB has focused so much attention on poorly performing students that higher-performing kids have been neglected during the past six years.
On the other hand, the program, whatever its flaws, does seem to have gotten results. Education Week reported last month that student achievement in math and reading has risen over the past several years, with particularly strong improvements noted among fourth-graders in both subjects. Significantly, the gap between minorities and other students has narrowed. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy, 21 of 27 states studied showed moderate to large gains in math at the elementary level, 22 showed gains in reading and math at the middle school level, and 12 states showed reading and math improvements among high schoolers. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, the so-called "nation's report card," reported improvement in 31 of 33 states examined.
It's impossible to gauge how much, if any, of this measured success is due to NCLB. There are just so many moving parts -- individual state initiatives, changing student populations, other reforms. But this much is certain: If scores had not improved or had declined, NCLB would be universally blamed.
The excitement at the prospect of the first African-American president is natural and understandable. But the total contempt shown by the African-American community toward this president is a staggering injustice.
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