Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Disturbing News from the Education Front

An article on the front page of the New York Times explains that, due to Bush's much vaunted "aid" to education, the so-called "No Child Left Behind" act, schools are scrambling not to educate their children but to prepare them for the program's difficult (even impossible) tests. Of course, education in the arts and humanities are the first to fall from the cirruculum, preparing our children to be good soldiers or middle managers rather than thinking, creative people. And if they don't pass these egregious tests, no doubt our fearless leader will find a way to privetize the schools. Get ready, lovers of culture, for Haliburton High and Pepsi Prep, it's on the horizon in the coming half decade.

Of all the offenses of this administration--and I cannot see anything but offenses--this is the most long-range harmful, because if you change the way education works (as they've already done with the electoral process) than the future of the country is doomed. We will all be able to say we were there at the end of the Empire. Perhaps it's deserved.

If ANYONE can show me an upside to No Child Left Behind, I'd certainly be open to it. Please, someone persuade me to it's merit, because from where I sit it's the most evil thing since racism. Please. And if anyone can point to something positive in all of this mess, I'd also love to hear, because I grow more shocked and repulsed daily.


Blogger rgable said...

Hate to Complain, but...

Some of us middle managers aren't anti-thinking or anti-creativity.

Robert Gable

12:54 PM  
Blogger A.C. Douglas said...

Much as I hate to give credit to this criminally incompetent administration for anything, the upside of its well-named plan is that it works best for the majority -- the overwhelming majority -- of children. Teaching that overwhelming majority to be "thinking, creative people" (to the *very* limited extent such a thing can be taught) is not only a waste of time (they're incapable of it), but a disservice both to them and to society in general. Teaching that overwhelming majority the basic fundamentals of being "good soldiers or middle managers" (which is something than *can* be taught) is a service to both.


1:32 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Mr. Gable, nobody said you were that--nor do I think being a solider or a middle manager is a bad thing. I do think that what people are not seeing is not only how bad this plan is--one that does not people to consider all options at an age where considering all options is crucial, even if a more mainstream path is pursued--because it will not really educate people to do anything save for pass impossible, corportate-sacntioned tests, but how sinister it would be to have corporations own the minds of children any more than they already do. It's a form of brainwashing, and very dark and Huxlean as such (or more Wallace-ian, where in INFINITE JEST whole years are underwritten by corporations).

Corportaions are not inherently evil things--people running them, alas, for the most part are. I wish there were more than a handful of counterexamples.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Alex Ross said...

It's important to remember that No Child Left Behind is a variation on a back-to-basics plan that has been proposed for several administrations running. Clinton went some ways toward implementing it. Bush happened to have the political capital to make it happen. There would have been the same consequences — narrowing the curriculum, sidelining the arts — no matter who was in charge. So let's not kick the Republicans on this one. One governor has done more than any other to reassert music education: ultraconservative Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Schwarzenegger put $100 million for arts education into his latest budget.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, you know what? We've had enough of illiterate kids who go on to blog endlessly about how they're not getting the world handed to them on a goddamned plate. We have too many "creative" types as it is. Creative work makes up nearly 80% of all jobs in the US now. What more do you pansies want?!?!?! We need soldiers and managers to meet the challenges of the new century, not some hippy playing three notes over and over and complaining that he doesn't get enough tax-payer handouts to live his creative lifestyle. For better or worse, America must control the world now, and that's not getting done with a bunch of creative types sitting around discussing Lou Reed's genius and how great the coffee is at some new cafe. Let's get these kids educated properly. No more singing "Cumbaya" in "music" class and finger painting in "art" class when they can't spell or do basic math. So there

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Marc Geelhoed said...

Wow. Are there even any hippies left who play three notes over and over? And how does that relate to America controlling the world? Wow.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Alex Ross said...

This is so exciting, Danny! Bill O'Reilly is reading your blog!

10:58 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

God, and here I was bothered by privitization of schools. I guess I shoulda been wary of all those "creative" Lou Reed fans.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Quinn Skylark said...

We can already say that we are at the end of the "Empire," even w/out the NCLB act. Besides, the arts are always going to be on the fringes because, for they most part, they simply don't turn much of a profit.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope. Empire is just beginning. Get on board for the great endeavor or remain irrelevant and child-like the rest of your "creative" lives. This is one of the most exciting times in history, and yet you may choose to be petulant and peevish children. Those permitted to grow up as spoiled brats are probably doomed to stay that way, and, if it is some consolation, you should know that you are not entirely to blame for your failures and cowardice, or, for that matter, your parasitical status on our otherwise quite fine society. Those of selfish inclinations and limited imagination have always stood idly by and bitched while adults actually ran the world. It might be cool to act like you're a "musician" or "poet" (even though you have no audience and make no money from it, and so are really only pretending) while you're in your twenties, but it gets increasingly pathetic to be doing that sort of thing into your thirties and beyond. It's sad but true. We all have to grow up, and we can't all be the center of attention forever. In fact, past the age of 13, it shouldn't be such a big deal. So take your God-given and tortured "genius" and shove it up your asses. Our republic -- particularly its ideals of tolerance, the free market of ideas, and its commitment to democracy -- is worth fighting for against totalitarianism and religious zealotry. Stand by and pay the price, you poor, poor "artistes."

- Lou Reed's gardener

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on. I wanna be a mid-manager type-thing. how much you guys make? More than me, I'm sure, fucking imperialist pig assholes@!!!! Music is the only reason to live but we shouldnt kill for it. Not even Dan Felsen.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, I am so sick of you facists!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought we killed you all when we bombed Berlin! What were in those bombs, fertilizer????!?!?!?! Go to hell anti-musiciians!!!!!!!!!!!!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Chasan said...

No Child Left Behind is the best thing the Bushies have attempted. It should be fairly straightforward to teach English and mathematics in a manner which integrates science and the arts, but that would require far more imagination than most school systems have at their disposal.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo- to quote you, "We're raising a nation of rubes."


7:32 AM  
Anonymous Jen Siglin said...

Let's talk about pansies now, all you anonymous posters who feel so very STRONGLY about your convictions and how great Bush is and, ooh, let's all be soldiers and OH, artists are stupid and gay and meaningless! Whatever.

At least have the fucking balls to put your name on your post, assholes. The world would be NOTHING and there would be no meaning without art. We'd all still be sitting around in the cave scratching lice on our asses. I truly believe that.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Maury D'annato said...

The side effect, by the way, of the disastrous No Child Left Behind, is that it makes teaching so unfulfilling and unworkable that teachers hate it and burn out. Because teaching isn't valued to begin with, and teachers are paid pathetically, it is already a field not exactly deeply attractive to smart people who could (and do) end up getting jobs like management consulting instead. No Child Left Behind is a dream for anyone who fantasizes about world filled with bankers and bureaucrats.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

If any of the people commenting here have ever attemped to teach a five year old child with a severe learning and/or attentional disability (which all too many of our sadly raised, junk-food fed, TV baby-sat-due-to-no-subsidized-childcare kids have), while also trying to teach over thirty other children to spell, with only a part time aid to help, and a salary barely enough to cover basic expenses, I'll eat my fucking hat. And it's a nice hat.

9:23 PM  

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