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With all the debate in this country about immigration reform and immigrants needing to learn English, I would like to address the language of another group that is really difficult to grasp.
The language of career, professional politicians is just beyond me. I’m glad that I’m a country, hayseed journalist who interviews real people who can answer a question, in plain, everyday English that even a fifth-grader can understand.
I’m referring to questions that I sent to 1st District Congressman Ed Whitfield’s media representative, Robert Sumner, about Kentucky’s schools and the No Child Left Behind Act.
Before you think I’m Republican-bashing, I received answers from Gov. Steve Beshear about his views on abortion and same-sex marriage that are just as convoluted as what I got from Whitfield. There just wasn’t room in this column for the response that I got from Beshear’s media rep, Matt Erwin.
My statements and questions to Whitfiled were simple and straightforward:
“Concerning the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, a key provision in the bill states that schools must be at certain proficiency levels by 2014 or risk losing federal aid. Sen. Johnny Isakson and other Republicans want to do away with the ‘adequate yearly progress’ benchmarks in math and reading.
Does Congressman Whitfield support removing the AYP provision? Why or why not? Are there other parts of the bill that Mr. Whitfield would support revising or eliminating?
Does Mr. Whitfield support the Kentucky Department of Education’s request for a waiver on the AYP provision which would allow them to establish standards to adequately assess AYP goals?”
Here’s the response I received from Sumner:
“Congressman Whitfield is aware of the Kentucky Department of Education’s request for a waiver for the AYP provision, but has yet to examine the petition closely.
However, Rep. Whitfield does have concerns about the number of steps that states, like Kentucky, will have to take in order to obtain the waivers from the federal government such as implementing policies and curriculum that are preferred by the Obama Administration.
In addition, Rep. Whitfield has significant concerns about the Department of Education’s use of competitive education grants to determine funding.
It is Rep. Whitfield’s hope that the Department will consider reworking these competitive programs so as to provide more opportunities to smaller, rural schools rather than favoring large urban districts with dedicated grant writers and staff who currently receive a larger share of grants than do struggling rural districts.
Currently, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce is advancing a series of education bills that will end the ‘one size fits all’ education mandates from Washington. Rep. Whitfield looks forward to reviewing the Committee’s recommendations.”
OK, so I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but good night nurse, whatever happened to plain English?
I sincerely doubt that the congressman uses high-falutin’ language like this on the Casey County campaign trail when he’s winding watch stems and looking for checks from supporters.
I’m grateful that Casey County Judge/Executive Ronald Wright and Liberty Mayor Steve Sweeney speak good, country English. And that goes as well for our magistrates and city councilmen who answer questions without trying to sound like a Philadelphia lawyer.
Maybe career politicians need to get back to the country and just sit down and listen to how real folks talk. It won’t be like them — and that ain’t no bull.
Editor’s note: Larry Rowell is a staff writer at The Casey County News in Liberty.