As a relatively disaffected conservative, I was reasonably troubled by President Bush’s lecture last Tuesday, wherein he condemned the U.S. government’s irresponsible spending and praised the “achievements” of his educational reform program (No Child Left Behind), all the while stressing the importance of Americans’ being “responsible” citizens.I would hope that all conservatives – fiscal conservatives – have begun to question the White House’s and Congress’ irresponsible spending instead of blindly accepting the rhetoric that justifies such negligent use of government funds. Such rhetoric includes blaming the “Clinton era” government for first overspending and articulating the new “challenges” that the budget has faced since 9/11. The truth of the matter is that the Bush administration has done nothing to curb or eradicate this overspending. It has simply authorized more and more spending. Case in point: President Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill thus far in his term as president. How is that being responsible?
Expectedly, the president failed to mention this destructive aspect of his presidency during his speech. He did, however, call for more “responsible spending” in Washington, asserting that this irresponsible spending was the “enemy of job creation.” Where’s the accountability in this statement? It is inappropriate and highly hypocritical for the president to criticize a practice that he has wholly permitted and sanctioned without restraint during the course of his term as president.
Secondly, his articulation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act’s achievements was inaccurate. The only achievement that this act is responsible for is providing standardized test companies with more revenue. Although the president insisted that the funding for Title I (the legislation behind this act) has increased by 41% since 2001, the NCLB act has been widely criticized for being under funded. And it shows.
President Bush stressed the accountability that the NCLB act guarantees through the means of standardized testing. He stated that this accountability is what the American public is receiving in return for the money the government spends to fund it. Although I feel that schools should stress accountability of administrators, teachers, and students, I find it disconcerting that the means by which the NCLB holds schools accountable for this achievement is standardized testing. I find it more disconcerting, however, that our president stresses school accountability while he neglects to be accountable for the under funding of this act and the devastating effects it causes in schools across the country.
The president’s primary message in his speech was responsibility – the government must be responsible for its spending, parents and community members must be responsible for their children’s education, etc. The need for responsibility in these aspects of American life is evident. Good citizens should and do take responsibility for their actions. Isn’t it fair to suggest that good presidents should also take responsibility for their actions? So why is President Bush holding the American public to a much higher standard than he himself abides by?