Two and a half years ago, The U. S. Chamber of Commerce and The Center for American Progress released a report on the condition of education in the U. S. It was the typical scare tactic, what we might call the educational variation on "Death Panels."
Fortunately, no one paid any attention to it. If you put "Leaders and Laggards" into Google, you get hundreds of thousands of entries, but only one refers to the report. The cooperation between the Chamber and CAP stunned many of us -- they are usually at each other's throats. When we contacted John Podesta, Executive Director of CAP (and later leader of the Obama transition team), he said that they (CAP) thought that the collaboration might work. "We might be wrong, but we are not naive."
Now that the Chamber has reverted to form, I queried Mr. Podesta on his feelings about the Leaders and Laggards project. My email to him follows. He has not replied.
From: gerald bracey
Date: 9/23/2009 1:15:13 PM
Subject: CAP and Chamber
Reading that the Chamber of Commerce is leading the fight against President Obama's proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a project I would think CAP would enthusiastically endorse, I got to reminiscing about your joint venture with the Chamber on "Leaders and Laggards." I wondered if you suffer any of what we might term "partner's remorse." Apparently, the Chamber is taking a "death panel" approach to stopping the idea--lying and frightening people with its lies.
So far as I can tell, the Leaders and Laggards' sole accomplishment was to provide a quote in deathless prose from your talk at the report's rollout: "It is unconscionable to me that there is not a single state in the country where a majority of 4th and 8th graders are proficient in math and reading." This has allowed me to note in numerous publications and speeches that if one maps NAEP results onto international test results, one finds that no country comes CLOSE to having a majority proficient in reading and only five do in math (only two in science).
I sure hope you guys don't contribute to the reauthorization of NCLB.
Gerald W. Bracey
Port Townsend, Washington