Anybody who thinks about it for more than 30 seconds knows that "no child left behind" is an impossible goal, a stupid promise to make and a federal law doomed to failure. The only possible way for everyone to succeed is to dumb down the definition of success to the point where it is meaningless. Here's one way that works:
But in September, Mountain Grove, a remote rural community in the Ozarks where nearly three in four students live in poverty, eliminated all of its programs for the district's 50 or so gifted children like Audrey, who is 8 now. Struggling with shrinking revenues and new federal mandates that focus on improving the test scores of the lowest-achieving pupils, Mountain Grove and many other school districts across the country have turned to cutting programs for their most promising students.
''Rural districts like us, we've been literally bleeding to death,'' said Gary Tyrrell, assistant superintendent of the Mountain Grove School District, which has 1,550 students. The formula for cutting back in hard times was straightforward, if painful, Mr. Tyrrell said: Satisfy federal and state requirements first. Then, ''Do as much as we can for the majority and work on down.''
Under that kind of a formula, programs for gifted and talented children have become especially vulnerable.
So much for "compassionate conservatism," just another name for the liberal forumla of throwing increasing amounts of money at problems and being shocked that they merely turn into bigger problems. Thank you, George Bush, for almost guaranteeing us at least four years of that approach on steroids.