In his State of the Union address, Bush said a lot of surprising things. New funding for researching alternative energy sources, a stronger fight against AIDS; this doesn’t sound like the President Bush we didn’t elect. But my faith in an unfrozen hell is still strong. Mr. Bush talked about his administration’s achievements and tried to pull a fast one on the public, pretending his No Child Left Behind legislation was already a success.

“To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform – which must now be carried out in every school, and every classroom, so that every child in America can read, and learn, and succeed in life.”

The only historic thing about Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation is the enormity of its stupidity. The beauty of the position of the lawmaker is that he merely must say, “Make every child learn,” without the worry of how to go about doing it.

He can give standardized tests to make sure that teachers are doing it, without ever needing to know how, and he can penalize those that do not meet the state’s standards.

The idea is that schools should be held accountable for the quality of the education their students receive. Fair enough. To check this, standardized tests are administered every few years to measure the progress that students have actually made against the progress they should have. If they haven’t, then the state can choose to give that school less funding, and parents can put their kids in a school that has performed better.

So now each and every child will receive an education of the same quality as every other in his or her state. No, really. Because the government will be able to punish educators if they don’t do some good educating, and right this damn minute.

As though educators are not penalized enough merely by their position in life. Long hours teaching children who oftentimes seem adamantly opposed to learning anything while getting paid less than a really good waiter can make in a year. Maybe a good start to improving education would be to make teaching a more desirable career, or at least to make life a little easier for teachers. You know, by giving them enough money to buy things. Like food. And a place to live somewhat comfortably.

They deserve it. Teachers have a lot to worry about. Angry parents, administrators that worry far more about their own paychecks than education, students who can get automatic weapons in a matter of days; it seems like adding a little bit more pressure to all that may not be the best idea.

There are schools where teachers have to fear for their lives on a daily basis. There are schools where the students so effectively intimidate their teachers that almost no one will work there for more than a month or two. And there are teachers who work there anyway.

Raising the standards probably isn’t going to fix these problems. I’ve never spoken to an educator who thought that No Child Left Behind was a good idea. This legislation attacks the symptoms of much deeper problems in schools without even beginning to address the causes.

It throws special programs, testing requirements and money into schools and tells them to use these to improve test scores. Something tells me that test scores are not the key issue in the problems that education faces in America today.

Schools and teachers should be held accountable for their students’ education. But parents should be held accountable for their children, too. And this whole damn country should be held accountable for its youth. Somebody really isn’t doing their job here, but I don’t think that person is a teacher.

Daily Nexus assistant opinions editor Cory Anthony is planning to start holding his professors solely accountable for his education.