Leaving Children Behind

Ideas and Issues Labor Organizing

New Orleans: We know Rod Paige too well!  America, if you had only listened, we tried to tell you even during his confirmation hearing that things were sketchy back home in Houston and there was more flim-flam that good fortune for children in the schools there. 

Our union, Local 100, Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO  went hammer and tong with him during his celebrated, but now proven duplicitous, reign as Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (HISD), where we represent thousands of school support workers.   Privatization was the flashpoint.  Special deals with board members, ghost employees making huge salaries on contracts, you name it – we exposed it, as we tried to reign in Aramark and others who were being trotted out to deteriorate the working conditions and wages of African American and Hispanic workers who had kept the infrastructure of the system together!

Paige was Bush’s hero because of the test scores and the dropout rate.  Paige went to Washington as the show horse for the success of Governor Bush’s education “reform.”  Turned out to be a mirage (which is a polite thing to call a total lie and fabrication!).  Because the dropout rate was totally made up and so was much of the pass rate in the schools which it fueled.  One of those deals where if you let me cheat, I’ll do well on the test, too!

This is the team that has now brought the country the originally ballyhooed and now much boo-hoo’ed, No Child Left Behind Act, which is making even more mayhem of our public schools throughout the country.  No one is saying – especially not those of us who are working with families in lower income and working communities – that the public schools are not in a huge crises.  They are, and more!  We have consistently said that this is not the way.  One cannot test to education, we have to educate, and then the test will reflect the success.  Additionally, this mess was one unfounded mandate after another – this was a Republican apotheosis – the big federales ordering the states and districts down to the fine detail how to run their local schools – who but these fellas would not have appreciated the huge ironies involved, much less the absurdity of it all.  Throw all of that together with the fact that no rain followed the plow – there was no money to help the local school districts or the states saddled with these mandates make the changes demanded.  Meanwhile the teachers unions, support worker unions like Local 100 SEIU, ACORN, and a host of others are lying in the gap for these jokers….fun times at Ridgemont High!

They are truly dancing now.  Some 14 states have all signed on to a chain letter to Washington saying that the Department of Ed needs to get its arms around this problem and figure out a way to cut them some slack.  Even better these are not in the main your bleeding hard “red” states, but your deep “blue” states, like Utah, Idaho, Virginia, and others who are kicking up sand.  Secretary Paige was on the front page the other day squirming in the heat of this mess – saying they were not open to amending the act (and publicly admitting their huge booboos!) but they were squeezing every bit of discretion they could find in the act to cut the states some slack.  Read more carefully, that means figure out a way to look the other way, while the mess goes on, but the politics still lets them call it a “win” in November.

If we had a real Attorney General, it would be time to issue some indictments to haul in Bush and Paige for the mess they have made and the permanent and irredeemable damage they done to the nation’s children with NCLB. 

This is child abuse of a high order.  And, we need to put a stop to it!