NONE LEFT BEHIND
(News-Herald, January 2003) Yes, I was initially resistant to the federal education initiative. I know that in the past I may have referred to “No Child Left Behind” as “dangerously dopey” or “a cynical attempt to dismantle American public education.” But I have seen the light.
It makes perfect sense to approach the human endeavor of education with the expectation of a 100% success rate, and it seems only right that any school district that falls short of perfection should be stripped of financial support and taken over by the government.
In fact, I think the feds should extend the principle to more fields devoted to improving the human condition. Let me propose a few programs.
“No Smile Left Behind.” It’s time for the dentists of this country to provide thorough and effective treatment of their patients. There’s no reason in this day and age that we can’t have 100% perfect dental health—so all dentists will be expected to have 100% success with their patients. If not, they’ll be replaced with special government-issue dentists.
“No Patient Left Behind” Probably the only area of human service as wide-reaching and important as education is health care. In a world with 100% perfectly educated youth, surely we need to have 100% success in health care.
So we’ll give hospitals twelve years to improve their delivery of treatment, and at the end of a decade we’ll have hospitals that cure every person who comes through their doors
See, the beauty of No Child Left Behind is that unshakeable 100%. For too long, we’ve accepted less than perfection. For too long we’ve accepted, for instance, that saving lives from cancer is hard. Let’s adopt, instead, the NCLB philosophy; if any hospital fails to provide 100% cure of anything from cancer to the common cold, we’ll stop giving them any money for treating patients. That’ll get them to stop monkeying around and trot out that 100% successful cure that we know they’re hiding somewhere.
But let’s not stop there. We need to address other aspects of health. We’ve heard repeatedly that America is overweight. That gives me an idea for our next program:
“No Behind Left Behind.” Most every town has a YMCA or YWCA or health club; there’s no reason for America to have any fat people. I say there’s no reason not to expect each exercise-based facility to have 100% success in getting every person down to perfect fighting trim. Biology, habit, ambition, determination, desire—these minor quibbles won’t stop us from having perfect schools, so if the Y can’t get every rear end in the area into a slim pair of jeans, then the government should take over and implement their plans for weight reduction in the US.
And why stop with physical well-being. Let’s have “No Soul Left Behind.” Churches have clearly been dogging it in this country. After several centuries, we are still surrounded by sinners and evil-doers. I say it’s time for church leaders to get off their duffs and get that salvation train rolling.
It is time that every single soul in this country was saved. So let’s give the churches and synagogues a decade or so, at the end of which we’ll expect a salvation rate of 100%. And if any church fails to produce, then we’ll just bring in government officials to properly supervise the salvation of American souls.
I’m excited about this revelation. As a teacher, I’ve always bought into the notion that there’s no such thing as a perfect school. But all the things that we have claimed stand in the way of perfect education—individual differences in abilities, goals, circumstances, ambition—are the same factors that challenge the success of most human endeavors. So if government legislation erases these from schools, they can be erased from other areas of human existence as well.
The feds have given us great new principles to live by: Perfection is attainable and we should never settle for less. People fall short of perfection because they’re unmotivated; threaten to take away their livelihood and they’ll do better.
And if you lose your way on the path to perfection, the government is always ready to step in and show the way, because the government, apparently, knows the secret of achieving 100% successful perfection. In fact, I’m sure they can make a go of two more programs—“No Evildoers Left Behind” in which 100% of America’s military enemies are neutralized and “No Stomach Left Behind” in which 100% of all Americans have enough to eat. Should take twelve years, tops. And if the feds don’t get it done, I think we should cut their funding.