DPS Candidates Say, “Thanks, Dubya!”

9NEWS on former President George W. Bush’s visit to Denver yesterday:

Former President George W. Bush says he continues to have a “great passion” for education even though he considers himself to only be an observer in politics these days.

Bush made the remarks Thursday morning in Denver after meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock and local education leaders at Get Smart Schools, a nonprofit Colorado group that trains principals for innovation and charter schools…

“President Bush really starts with the heads of the school. He believes they set the tone for the school to hold schools accountable,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “So he really talked about accountability and how it’s important to make sure the leader of the institution sets the right tone for achievement and accomplishments.

Bush says that an “excellent school must first have an excellent leader.”

“It was good to hear what led [Bush] to really push for No Child Left Behind, and it was about accountability,” Hancock said…

Adds UPI:

Bush…avoided talking about possible legislative changes to his administration’s No Child Left Behind law, The Denver Post reported…

“He’s someone who has been there done that, so it was good just to get some ideas from him,” Hancock said. “It was perfect timing for me to have the opportunity to hear what led him to create (the No Child Left Behind) legislation.”

Now of course that’s the same No Child Left Behind Act that has been panned recently by just about everybody debating education, from Sens. Rand Paul to Michael Bennet–the former, as we discussed this week, maybe not really forthright about it when it comes time to legislate, but still very much in lip-service agreement that NCLB has been a failure. Bennet has emerged as a leading proponent of sweeping overhaul.

Let’s talk about the optics of Bush’s visit with DPS elections right around the corner.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has endorsed the three Denver Public School Board candidates loosely identified as the “reform slate.” In the closing weeks of a bitter, extremely well-financed campaign, the allegations being exchanged between these candidates are getting pretty acrimonious. Would a loss by reformers lead to an immediate halt to reform efforts at DPS, and the summary ouster of superintendent Tom Boasberg? Would victorious reformers support a religious school voucher program a la Douglas County?

In all probability, neither of those outcomes are likely, and any changes will be more gradual than it ever feels two weeks before the election. But with the rhetoric at a fever pitch on both sides, we cannot see how Bush’s visit to Denver–a visit rescheduled from February to less than two weeks before the elections–is going to settle anybody’s nerves. As the face of NCLB, not to mention a former President whose historical legacy in general is, to put it mildly, hotly debated, the possibility of this visit affecting voter sentiment in the DPS elections is quite real. Hancock’s praise for Bush and the universally reviled NCLB is a political risk in the context of these school board races, and his endorsements, that we would never have taken.

(Cross-posted at Denver Pols)

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. cunninjo says:

    The underlying premise of NCLB was to hold schools accountable if they wanted to receive federal funding. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively.

    The problem with NCLB was that the incentives were poorly designed. Schools were only rewarded if they exceeded proficiency standards. So if the worst schools showed rapid growth but still fell short of the proficiency standards then they were still penalized with funding reductions.

    The other key problem with NCLB was that states were free to define proficiency how ever they wanted, so many states set their standards low to minimize the number of schools identified as failing.

    That being said, whatever the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ends up looking like, the two problems described above will likely be the biggest deviations from the original NCLB.  

    • nancycronknancycronk says:

      Let’s make cancer illegal. And bad neighbors. And people who hate. And poor judgment. Let’s also punish those who try to fix these problems and fail. Be sure not to give them any resources at all to do it.

      My suggestions make as much sense as NCLB.  

      • cunninjo says:

        I agree and made clear in my comment that the structure of the funding incentives was poorly designed. But that’s an easy fix. Schools that are performing well should still be rewarded in some way. Also, when schools are consistently performing badly the government should intervene and make radical changes to the management and administration of those schools. Schools that are performing poorly but are showing consistent signs of improvement should be rewarded as well.

        NCLB didn’t have enough funding and unfortunately that isn’t going to change any time soon. But, that doesn’t mean the overall concept of NCLB is bad. It just means it was poorly implemented.

        If you think that what Sen. Bennet and the President are proposing is somehow a radical shift from NCLB, you are mistaken.  

    • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

      And tell those hippies at OWS to take a bath.

      • sxp151 says:

        It has nothing to do with this topic, but you keep bringing it up. Does it bother you that nobody ever liked the teabaggers but a majority supports OWS?

      • cunninjo says:

        States already have almost full control over education. Since you support getting rid of any federal involvement in education, would you support the massive state tax increases that would be required to backfill the lost federal funding? Because right now the federal government pays a significant portion of the cost to educate special needs and low income students. Show me one state that is in a position to take on that kind of expense. Anyways, states can opt out of NCLB if they want to. They just wouldn’t get any federal funding.

        The reason the federal government MUST be involved in education is because there are serious civil rights issues that states may try and ignore in the name of saving money. It is imperative that special needs and low-income (mostly minority) students have the same opportunities as any other student. And, it certainly is in the national interest that we have an educated and literate population capable of competing on a global level. And if federal taxpayer dollars are going to be used, then schools should be held accountable for what they do with that money.  

        Maybe if pathetic Ron Paul Jr. had been doing HIS JOB he would already know what’s in the bill! I mean it’s not as though members of both parties have been discussing reauthorization for the last 5 years or anything…  

  2. BlueCat says:

    He’s kind of like a friendly neutered de-clawed cat these days.  His own party’s candidates don’t want much to do with him.  From clueless but popular empty suit to where he is now?  Almost too pathetic to want to kick anymore.

    • nancycronknancycronk says:

      I’m happy to kick GWB’s politics, though. The man destroyed much of this country. He deserves no sympathy.  

      • BlueCat says:

        Cheney and the neocons are the ones I still most love to hate.

        • GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

          They all engendered enough disgust and loathing to spread around to all. Forever.

          • BlueCat says:

            He’s just such a clueless moron I can’t help not being able to hate him as much as his keepers.  When I look at him I see Alfred E Newman. I’ll try harder.  

            • GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

              But just when that Alfred E Newman looks starts to get to me, I remember that smirk and swagger and sense of entitlement–and that war he had to have to show up his daddy. I’m not so sure, whether his buddies used him or whether he used them. He was so successful at grandstanding while deflecting personal responsibility for presidential failure.

              • AristotleAristotle says:

                But he was very willing. It made him the most important guy on the planet, and he got off on that.

                I’m with you. If he’s not getting anyone to boost his ego now that he’s out of office, with zero chance of ever mattering again, that’s his just desserts for believing that he was ever in control and acting like it was his birthright.

              • BlueCat says:

                Whenever I feel myself slipping into GW complacency I’ll  concentrate on remembering him swaggering under the Mission Accomplished Banner in that ridiculous (on GW) flight suit and then picture all the flag draped coffins and severely wounded young people that followed.

                And you’re right, Ari. I bet if Osama had been killed while Bush was in office, even if it had nothing to do with his own direct orders and supervision, he would have seriously sprained something puffing up and strutting.

  3. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    Do not let Republicans work with Democrats. Do not let Democrats say nice things about Republicans. That will trash so many preciously held theories on this blog. Attack! Attack!

  4. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    It brought to everyone’s attention just how bad a lot of schools are. Especially the ones that serve the poor. How it accomplished that was heavy handed and imperfect. But it also was a first step to getting people to focus on improving schools.

    • vandie says:

      What if what’s really bad are the standardized tests?  What if kids can’t be measured accurately by tests?  What if real learning can’t be noted until a few grades later?

      What if all these standardized tests to show “just how bad a lot of schools are” was really just to hand cash over to the Bush family via McGraw-Hill, the publisher of CSAP?

      • Ralphie says:

        Then the people who should be held accountable need to explain why accountability is bad.

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        Then we should not take away medical licenses from doctors who do a lousy job. Call me crazy but I appreciate the fact that we hold professionals accountable – doctors, pilots, …

        • MichaelEllis says:

          False accountability is bad.  

        • BlueCat says:

          That’s rich.  You can’t pick up a paper without reading about how some routine money making procedure or treatment shows, after years of study, no more effectiveness than doing nothing.  

          Along with the studies showing no increased prostate cancer survival as a result of all the routine testing you may have missed the part about no evidence that all the hormone treatments that really make men miserable help at all.  My uncle and my dad probably didn’t live any longer and they probably could have had years more of a better quality of life without those hormone treatments that caused all kinds of unpleasant side effects  

          The same goes for thousands of knee and shoulder and hip surgeries on people past 50 who would be better off just easing up on the tennis or skiing. Sure some really do benefit but I was in a fitness class for years in which almost every woman my age or older had had shoulder or knee surgery. When my shoulder started bothering me,  I had such lousy high deductible insurance I just put up with it and started using lighter weights and avoiding certain moves that were particular hard on that shoulder. Eventually I was as pain free again as anyone my age can expect to be ( I never have been one to focus on every minor ache or pain), which is more than I can say for most of the more affluent, well insured women who seemed to have procedure after procedure without ever being close to pain free again.

          Then there all the vitamin supplements they’ve been telling everybody, especially seniors, to take that, according to numerous studies, at best do no harm and at worst are bad for you.

          Doctors get paid whether their treatments work or not and nobody gets their money back when a study shows something they’ve been telling you for 20 years is bull.  Doctors accountable?  Not unless they totally screw up in a really awful and obvious way. Often, not even then. That’s why our health care system isn’t oriented toward keeping people healthy through low cost maintenance but towards profitable procedures.

          • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

            And yes we need to bring in more oversight and accountability for doctors.

          • Ralphie says:

            Doctors get paid whether their treatments work or not and nobody gets their money back when a study shows something they’ve been telling you for 20 years is bull.

            • BlueCat says:

              Giving everybody stars and smiley faces and trophies and telling them how special  they were no matter how little effort they put in was supposed to fill them with so much self esteem they become great students.  Yeah, that worked out well. Special just came to mean nothing at all and kids expected all those stars and awards for nothing.  

              Scores, skills and comprehension didn’t exactly soar as result but you couldn’t shake the young indoctrinated teachers’ religious like faith in their completely unsupported by any empirical data theory. We poor non-professionals simply were too ignorant to understand was the way it was usually explained, if not in so many words.

  5. dwyer says:

    The sanctions for failing schools allow students to transfer out.  This makes some sense in those districts were students must attend the school to which they are assigned.

    However, in Colorado and specifically Denver, where choice is champion, kids can opt out or choice in to whatever school has space and to which their parents can provide transportation.  The NCLB sanction makes no sense.  If NCLB mandated transportation out of failing schools, that would be helpful.

    The unforeseen consequence of this is, of course, that affluent kids flee  neighborhood schools, leaving the poor kids behind. As enrollment falls, then resources available to the school fall, too, complicating the problem  It is a spiral.  But I digress.

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      If after 2 years of NCLB, when problems like this became apparent, if they stepped up then to improve it. And kept improving every 2 years. Then we would be much further along.

      But Congress, especially the Senate, seems to be capable of handling 1 – 2 items per session. So they wait 10+ years before finally proposing some long needed changes.

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