Sunday, September 21, 2003

No Cow Left Behind

This was in my inbox today... It was written by Kenneth Remsen, a school principal in Vermont.

Get in Line for "No Cow Left Behind"

As a principal facing the task of figuring out all the complexities of
the No Child Left Behind legislation and its impact on education, I have
decided that there is a strong belief that testing students is the answer to
bringing about improvements in student performance. Since testing seems
to be a cornerstone to improving performance, I don't understand why this
principle isn't applied to other businesses that are not performing up
to expectations.

I was thinking about the problem of falling milk prices and wondering
why testing cows wouldn't be effective in bringing up prices since testing
students is going to bring up test scores. The federal government
should mandate testing all cows every year starting at age 2. Now, I know that
it will take time out of the farmers' necessary work to do this testing
every year and that it may be necessary to spend inordinate amounts of money
on the testing equipment, but that should not distract us from what must
be done. I'm sure there are plenty of statistics to show what good milk
producing performance looks like and the characteristics of cows that
achieve this level of performance. It should, therefore, be easy to
figure out the characteristics necessary to meet this standard.

We will begin our testing by finding out which cows now meet the
standard, which almost meet the standard, which meet the standard with honors and which show little evidence of achievement. Points will be assigned in
each category and it will be necessary to achieve a certain average score.
If this score is not achieved, the Department of Agriculture will send in
experts to give advice for improvement. If improvements do not occur
over a couple of years, the state will take over your farm or even force you
to sell.

Now, I'm sure farms have a mix of cows in the barn but it is important
to remember that every cow can meet the standard. There should be no
exceptions and no excuses. I don't want to hear about the cows that just came to
the barn from the farm down the road that didn't provide the proper
nutrition or a proper living environment. All cows need to meet the standard.

Another key factor will be the placement of a highly qualified farmer
in each barn. I know many of you have been farming for many years but it
will be necessary for all farmers to become certified. This will mean some
more paperwork and testing on your knowledge of cows, but in the end this
will lead to the benefit of all. It will also be necessary to allow barn
choice for the cows. If cows are not meeting the standard on certain farms,
they will be allowed to go to the barn of their choice. Transportation might
become an issue but it is critical that cows be allowed to leave their
low-performing barns. This will force low-performing farms to meet the
standard or else they will simply go out of business. Some small farms
will probably go out of business as a result of this new legislation. Simply
put, the cost per cow is too high. As taxpayers, we cannot be expected to
foot the bill to subsidize farms with dairy compacts. Even though no one
really knows what the ideal cost is to keep cows content, the Legislature will
set a cost per cow. Expenditures too far above this cost will be penalized.
Since everyone knows that there are economies of scale, small farms
will probably be forced to close and those cows will merge into larger

Some farmers may be upset that I proclaim to know what is best for
these cows but I certainly consider myself capable of making these
recommendations. I grew up next to a farm and I drink milk. I hope you
will consider this advice in the spirit it is given and I hope you will
agree that the "No Cow Left Behind" legislation may not be best for a small
state like Vermont.

Kenneth Remsen is principal of Underhill School in Jericho (VT).


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1:00 PM  
Blogger real_tips said...

yeh... no cow left behind.. kind a funny ...:-)

11:33 PM  

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