Book club report: Austen, Bradbury, and No Child Left Behind

I go to a book club once a month; the other members all work at the high school where my sidekick teaches, and so have daily experience with current education legislation. This month we read Persuasion and a modern retelling of Persuasion: Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs. The modern book was an entertaining piece of chick lit in which the Anne Elliot character is a guidance counselor in a high school. I reread Persuasion for the 4th or 5th time and prepared for a nice discussion of antiromanticism, gender roles, and the class system. The main talking point of the discussion turned out to be the wrongheadedness of No Child Left Behind. See, the modern retelling is set in a high school, so there’s a connection.

This is a recurrent theme in my book club discussions. A few months ago we read Fahrenheit 451. I took lots of notes and had a nice “Ray Bradbury is a big ol’ misogynist” argument prepared. Bulk of discussion: how much the dystopia of Fahrenheit 451 reminded everyone about the wrongheadedness of No Child Left Behind.

I think we got all the way through A Walk in the Woods and Marley and Me without a detour into NCLB-sucks-landia. I skipped the Memory Keeper’s Daughter meeting because I hated the book so much, but I bet the subject of raising a child with Down Syndrome tied in nicely with NCLB. Faking a child’s death is bad, as is leaving one behind.

I think for the next meeting I’ll prepare some bullet points on how the book we’re reading ties in with NCLB, so I can join in the discussion. It’ll be easy: any bad, useless, or wasteful policy or decision is like No Child Left Behind. Which sucks, y’all.

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