No Child Left Behind Hoax- Now Coming to an Email Near You!

Well, now it is official. No Child Left Behind is so embedded in the American educational system that an urban legend has been spawned about it!

If you are part of a parent/teacher network, a community education group, a watchdog group, or receive e mails about education in general, you are likely to have received this ridiculous piece of hogwash. These hoaxes take on a life of their own, so please be careful before you pass it on. Please take a look at the commentary about the actual policies in the above link. A response from the Department of Education is here.

The e mail says that if you do not pass the 10th grade language and math tests before completing high school you will either drop out and pursue a GED or obtain a “Certificate of Completion”, and that if you obtain the certificate you will never ever ever ever be able to join the armed forces, go to college or trade school, or get a federal loan in your lifetime. It is written in the usual hoaxy style, exhorting all to pass on the information, preach it from the pulpit, save the children, and so on.

These hoaxes are not harmless. Misinformation clouds real debate, and the formation of real policies that affect real people. Highly intelligent people fall for them – and crank up the internet and the e mails and the websites and the newsletters and the fax machines to spread the word – and the lie.

Back when I was an early childhood teacher, it was almost an annual occurrence that a parent would come in with a great project for us – collect post cards, or get well cards, or letters or business cards for this poor little boy whose dying wish was to have mail from every state, or every country. Every year I told the parents this was a hoax, we would not do it. Every year parents argued that this request was from their department chairman, was in the corporate newsletter, was a project of the local PTA. Every single year. The real boy had long since recovered and grown up – and as an adult the mail follows him everywhere, a terrible burden and nuisance to him and the various charitable organizations that get mentioned.

Every new parent also eventually passed on to me a fax or e mail they had received about dangerous hippies lacing cards of candy with LSD. Again, never a real source that could be traced – and incredulous disbelief when I would tell young parents that this “official sheriff’s warning” had been circulating since I was a teenager, way back when they were babies themselves.

These ridiculous rumors waste everyone’s time, take up e mail box memory, and do real damage to those they are supposed to “benefit”. When you receive something like this, check it out at the Snopes.com reference pages before you send it (and the little viruses that are probably attached to it) to everyone in your address book.

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