State Rep. Harold Dutton, the bomb thrower of the Texas House, made the most compelling argument for not passing the state's new graduation and accountability bill last night: It doesn't fix the problem.
No Child Left Behind, and its precursor Texas system, were created to make sure that, well, no child would be left behind. But to Dutton's way of thinking, no version of accountability, from the past to the present, has touched the lives of African-American males in the Texas school system. So Dutton, being Dutton, proposed our accountability system be based solely on the progress of African-American males.
Aw, ever the jokester, that Dutton. On the floor, near the tail end of yesterday's debate, Dutton talked about the dominance of African-American males in the state jails, county jails and the probation system.
"What's the one thing they have in common, other than their race? You know what that one thing in common is?" Dutton asked from the front microphone of the House. "The TEAMS test didn't help them. The TAAS test didn't help them. The TAKS test didn't help them. The end-of-course exams didn't help them, and the reality is that House Bill 5 is not going to help them, either, unless we do something about it."
And Dutton's idea of doing something about it would be to judge school districts by how they teach the children on the bottom rung of academic progress. Needless to say, he didn't get a lot of support in the House.
"As I was coming in, one of the education lobbyists stopped me and said, 'Harold, your amendment was the most creative we saw.' And I said, 'Well, I hope it was not just the creativeness you saw in it. I hope you saw some other things.' And as they turned and walked away, they said under their breath, 'Yeah, we'd have to educate them then, wouldn't we?'"
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Dutton said the choice is to either educate or incarcerate. The House, in lock-step motion, tabled Dutton's amendment.