Don#039;t lose sight of #039;Timmy#039; in rhetoric

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tribune editorial board

Somewhere between a stammering but defiant George W. Bush and an eloquent, but flip-flopping Sen. John Kerry is a small boy. Let's call him Timmy, though that might not be his name.

Thinking about Timmy during the heat of the election may seem a little weird. Heck, Timmy can't really relate to most of the highly complex issues at the front of most election debates.

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Timmy believes a weapon of mass destruction is a large dirt clod tossed by his older brother. Timmy doesn't really know where Iraq is, let alone care if the people of Iraq like Americans or not.

His parents insulate him from many of the hot-button election topics.

Timmy doesn't care if President Bush diverted attention away from the hunt for terrorist Osama bin Laden to pursue Saddam Hussein. Timmy doesn't care that Kerry's position on the war is that he "voted for it, before he voted against it."

Nope, Timmy is not like any of the normal political pundits; he's better.

Timmy is one of millions of children whose future is stuck between the dream of the No Child Left Behind Act and the reality of implementing it.

Bush and Kerry both hang much of their education campaign talk on the act. Bush helped create it. Kerry voted for it before he criticized how it was funded.

No Child Left Behind was landmark legislation. It created sweeping changes in the accountability of our public education system. But a law is only as good as the lawmakers, administrators and parents who help make it a reality each and every day.

For their parts Kerry and Bush disagree about how the act is funded. Bush feels the current expected funding levels are adequate. Kerry, of course, feels it isn't. Money is the answer, Kerry says.

As in many disputed campaign issues, the truth is probably between the two answers. The funding may not be adequate, but given that the No Child Left Behind Act is younger than Timmy is, it's probably too early to make a definite decision on funding.

Until then, we need to quit worrying about what the politicians say and worrying a little more about Timmy's future.