About a decade ago or so, a humorously and somewhat ironically titled law called “No Child Left Behind” tied school moneys (and ultimately, teachers’ salaries) to the achievement at students at standardized tests. Although I am not a professional educator myself, it is a task that has greatly interested me, and so I try to keep up on matters of education on those grounds alone. It is my understanding that a great many teachers were not particularly happy about having their pay tied to student performance, especially those who had deliberately sought to teach students who were a more difficult challenge. People who like taking upon themselves a difficult challenge do not in any way wish to be punished or to suffer because of that challenge. Rather, the wish to help. That said, tying pay to performance is a pretty classic sort of motivation in this world, and one that is not itself particularly objectionable given the difficulties of ensuring accountability for government employees.
It is not the point of this entry to deal with the relationship of education and public policy in any great depth or breadth, only to note that in my own rather modest and curious way, today I sought to ensure that no child was left behind in the much smaller sphere that I was involved in. In order to explain this story, I suppose a bit of context would be helpful. As I had special music today, where I sang “If With All Your Hearts” from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and as I am singing with the rest of the choir next week as well, I was pretty busy today. Earlier this week an e-mail had been sent out inviting those members of the congregation who were playing volleyball or had family members playing volleyball to a pot luck at a particular house. I did not receive that e-mail, and wondered if I had merely overlooked it, or never received it, or had been deliberately excluded from it. I tend to worry about this sort of thing given my own life history and the way that others tend to act to me.
Anyway, I investigated the matter and found out that I was welcome to go to the house, which was nice, and it was an enjoyable time. Given the concerns of the matron of the house, I expressed a willingness to drive whatever young folks needed a ride. As it happened, as the driver of last resort, no such rides were necessary either on the way to volleyball practice or on the way from. However, being as I am someone who likes to make sure that everyone is okay before leaving, I ended up staying a few minutes after practice ended with some younger folks waiting for their mother to pick them up. No child was left behind.