Washington DC: After months of campaigning by the Bush Administration, today Congress passed an amendment to the "No Child Left Behind" public education legislation known as the "No Child Left Behind" Field Trip Policy. The initiative ensures that when students are taken on a field trip to places such as natural history museums, whale watching, and colonial America reenactment towns, they will not be left behind, tears streaming down their faces as they watch their school bus eagerly speed off without them.
At a press conference on the Hill following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "Parents can rest assure knowing now, thanks to President Bush and Congress, no American child will be left behind on another school sponsored field trip."
Last year, over 4,567 children were inadvertently left behind by their teachers during field trips. Another 436 were intentionally left behind because their teachers did not like them. Charlie Busom, now a 5th grader at Magnolia Elementary School in Washington D.C., recalled the trauma he endured in 3rd grade when he was left behind at Colonial Williamsburg. “Well, it was kind of boring so I snuck into the ye olde blacksmith’s shed and started looking around. I picked up a red-hot iron from the oven and, well, my parole officer can tell you the rest,” said Busom.
While the great majority of forgotten children are returned to their classrooms within the same day, some are not so fortunate. Jaime Chen, once a student in Ms. Blackberg’s 2nd grade class at Sierra Elementary, was left behind during their field trip to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. After waiting patiently next to the Saber-tooth Tiger statue for a few weeks (which is where Ms. Blackberg instructed students to wait if they were lost or separated from the group), Jaime gave up on ever returning home and began working at the Tar Pits, first cleaning tar from the shoes of the staff and now, ten years later, as a gift store clerk. “Sometimes I sit and think about how different my life would have been if wasn’t left behind that day. But then I stop myself. There is no point in dreaming about changing what has already happened,” lamented Chen, eyes distant with grief.
The new policy will require that all public school students from kindergarten to 12th grade be “tagged“ with small slightly radioactive chips, similar to those used to track grey whale migration patterns. The chips will be drilled into the left incisor tooth of students using a relatively painless procedure. Before leaving field trip locations, teachers will access a satellite tracking device to verify that all students are accounted for. The teacher will then request permission to leave the field trip premises which, after careful examination, will be approved by President Bush himself.
"This is no joke, people,” President Bush said in his weekly radio address, “My best friend in junior high was left behind on a field trip and after that experience, he was never the same. He was moved down to the second string on the football team, he had trouble talking to girls, and he started reading lots of books.”
Teachers that leave students behind on field trips will now face serious consequences including decreased classroom funding, possible dismissal and, in some cases, even deportation. Senator Frist argued that such harsh repercussions were justified because “true Americans don’t leave other Americans behind.” “When I was in Vietnam, if a soldier was down we made sure that we brought him back with us,” cried Frist,” even if we had to carry him on our backs through miles of minefields, enemy fire, and thick jungle terrain. We should expect the same from our teachers.”
Critics of the policy say that with so much pressure placed on teachers to account for all students at all times, teachers will not be able to encourage creative exploration at field trip sites. Ms. Jennie Davies, a teacher at Pioneer High School in Mountain View, CA does not want to take her students anywhere after this new policy. “These kids will be lucky if they get to visit the school parking lot because there is no way I am getting deported just so they can experience curriculum diversity,” said Davies.
The policy will cost taxpayers an estimated $657 billion and goes into effect immediately.