Isaac Asimov and Ignaz Semmelweis
Will the Real Animals Please Stand Up

Leaving the Kids Behind

When "No Child Left Behind" became law a few years back, politicians were ecstatic. Finally, no child would be left behind! They had been left behind before, as many as 61%last year in the City School District. (in spite of the law) Incidentally, that assumes that the 39% who did graduate were well equipped academically, an assumption not everyone would be willing to grant. But, who knows, perhaps before No Child Left Behind, it was only 29%. How could anyone not be excited?

Nobody wanted to be left behind on the "not left behind" craze. Thus, the local bus company declared that no passenger would be left behind! Everyone was enthused. On day one of the new program, almost all passengers were there right on time at the first bus stop. But a few didn't show up. These ones would have been cheated before, but with the new policy, they would not be left behind! The bus driver waited and waited and waited and waited. Still they did not show. Not a problem - this had been anticipated! Each bus had some rousting personnel on board, and those rousters went right to the laggards' homes and rounded them up! Finally, everybody was on board. The bus reached downtown with no passenger left behind! Of course, they all missed their appointments.

My uncle was a hell raiser as a kid. Back in the 1940's, long ago. Constant complaints from his teachers. Finally, his dad said: If the boy won’t behave, pull him out of school. He was “left behind!"

I knew in the first week it was a mistake, he told me later. In time, he got his act together, and lived out the remainder of his years a productive person.

Guys my age cannot help thinking that, years ago, jettisoning the hell raisers, or at least segregating them, might have averted today's educational catastrophe. We try to get over it, we really do, but there's that nagging suspicion that we've all been sold down the river by educators, who proudly strut the deck of a sinking ship, blaming everyone but themselves for letting the ship fall into disrepair. Yes, we try to get over it, but.....isn't it possible, if you'd long ago let students "fall behind," that 6 percent would have, and that half of those, like my uncle, would later realize their mistake and catch up? Then you'd have 3% permanently "left behind." That is a sobering thought.

But it sure beats the 60 percent effectively left behind today, either through not graduating or through graduating with dumbed-down curriculum that caters to the most disruptive and dysfunctional kid.



Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



Peace Tom,
I doubt weeding out students would "fix" the educational system fully. Maybe a part of it, but certainly not the problems of curriculum, philosophy, warehousing of children/peer pressure, and the lack of cohesiveness/continuity/worldview to sustain all the incoherent subjects they lump together.

Schools have tried their best to work with the parameters they are given, but it's not a system where true knowledge (including of self and community) can be internalized and synthesized for thinkers/intellectuals to be born.

What scares me though, in considering the alternative (homeschooling) as we have talked about, is the fact that I am a product of the public schooling system...and I wonder to what extent can parents "unlearn" to offer their children something better (?)

tom sheepandgoats


There was a time when weeding out would have helped, I think, but that time passed decades ago. Sort of like once you let the toothpaste out of the tube, it's hard to get it back in.

I agree, it never would have helped with the regimentation & discouragement of creative thinking. That is a separate problem. But there are schools in which civil behavior is so lacking that learning almost can't take place. Disruptive ones are too disruptive for that to happen.

As you detect, I gripe about schools for two reasons, which in some ways conflict. One, that they are too regimented. Two, that they are not regimented enough! That's not really fair, is it? Though, oddly, either extreme might present better results than does the mushy middle ground they straddle now.


At least there aren't any shortages of people who need (and are willing to pay for) a college education. In fact, you can buy remedial classes at Community Colleges and many universities. I wonder if there's a correlation?

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