Vice President Dick Cheney announced yesterday that the Whitehouse was prepared to go to court to fight the releaseof documents demanded by Congress as part of the investigation into the Enron scandal. But the head of the GeneralAccounting Office disagrees and has vowed to file suit if the Whitehouse does not hand over the documents by the endof the week.
Meanwhile, with eyes fixed on Enron, the nation has ignored what is perhaps the latest victory for crony politics.On January 8, the President signed into the law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is the most ambitiousfederal overhaul of the public school system since the 1960s.
The education act, commonly known as the "Leave No Child Behind Act," has been hailed by the mainstream media as abipartisan triumph. The bill received the full support of Senators Edward Kennedy and Paul Wellstone; and when itcame up for a vote in mid-December, both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly in its favor. But, for all thebi-partisan photo-ops and the cross-aisle handshakes, make no mistake: the education act of 2002 is a huge victoryfor Bush.
Much like the Enron scandal, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has its roots in old-boy connections and bigbusiness influence. In particular, the textbook and testing industries played a role in the legislation, craftingthe policies from which they now stand to benefit. A fascinating article recently published in the _Nation_magazine lays out the connections clearly, beginning with the long and cozy relationship between Bush and the famousMcGraw publishing family. "The amount of cross-pollination and mutual admiration between the Administration and [theMcGraw Hill] empire is striking," writes Stephen Metcalf in "Reading Between the Lines. "Harold McGraw Jr. sits onthe national grant advisory and founding board of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. McGraw in turnreceived the highest literacy award from President Bush in the early 1990s, for his contributions to the cause ofliteracy. The McGraw Foundation awarded current Bush Education Secretary Rod Paige its highest educator’ s awardwhile Paige was Houston’s school chief . . . and Harold McGraw III was selected as a member of President George W.Bush’s transition advisory team." But that’s just the beginning.
Today, we’ll learn more about these connections as we speak with an educational psychologist and student activistabout the big business behind the Bush education act.
- Gerald Coles, an educational psychologist who has written extensively on literacy and learningdisabilities. He is the author of Reading Lessons: The Debate Over Literacy and Misreading Reading: the Bad Sciencethat Hurts Children as well as numerous articles in educational and psychology journals. He is formerly a professorat Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the University of Rochester. He now writes full-time and lives in Ithaca,New York.
- Bill Wetzel, founder, Students Against Testing.