President George W. Bush has got a lot of nerve asking Congress to extend the No Child Left Behind Act when he recently vetoed the amendment to SCHIPS, what would extend healthcare to more children. I saw Prez W. giving the speech this afternoon, urging Congress to act, a speech that was peppered with words like "deserves," and "the right of every child" which begs the question: Why do Americans deserve a good education but not healthcare? (note I did not say "good" healthcare--I've seen what free healthcare looks like, and I'm under no illusion that it would be perfect. But it would be there.)
I understand the point of No Child Left Behind, and I agree with it, the same way Churchill agreed with Stalin during WWII. Of course we need to make sure schools are not passing children through without them being able to read, that kids are not falling behind because they're black/female/disabled/in a poor neighborhood. I have no problem with the basic idea of No Child Left Behind, even, up to a certain point, to the idea of "rewarding" well performing schools with money. The children are our future, to use a hackneyed phrase, and we can't invest enough money in them.
But why should we have to choose? The fact is--kids are unable to get healthcare on their own. They can't. They're kids. They aren't employed, and they can't exactly go signing up for programs on their own. If mom and dad are unable or incapable of providing health insurance, then all the literacy classes in the world aren't going to help them. Far be it from me to suggest that the reason we can't have both is the fact that our resources are diverted "elsewhere," but this definitely smacks of partisanship. My God, sir, how can you indifferently wave your hand and say that the children of your own country are undeserving of basic healthcare? I'm not talking about cancer treatments, or recovery after a fall on the baseball field. I'm talking about monthly checkups--it happens (or, rather, doesn't happen) in this country. In America.
It's enough to make me partisan. I almost want to say "no SCHIPS? Then forget your NCLB!" But of course--that doesn't work either. And of course many of my loyal readers are probably rolling their eyes at me, since I had he advantage of both health insurance AND a good education (not to mention apparently unlimited access to my orthodontist). America is not throwing good money after bad when we invest in our kids--on any level. We don't laugh at farmers when they plant clover only to plow it under in preparation for next year's harvest--why should we laugh at attempts to nurture our future citizens?