Sunday, April 19, 2009

NTLB, NPLB, and NFLB: A Parable of "Accountability"

I found this gem over on Susan Ohanian's essential (if you care about education, rather than schooling) blog:
Dentists, Doctors, and Policemen to be Held Accountable

(Another item in the news you will read nowhere else.)

by Stephen Neat, Eggplant.

Little noticed in the furor over the economy, treabagging and the torture memos, last week, President Obama unveiled three radical, new federal initiatives aimed at increasing accountability in three vital areas of American life: Dental clinics, hospitals and police departments. Together, the measures were described as necessary for "raising the dental hygene standards of patients in America's struggling dentist offices, holding hospitals accountable for America's declining health, and improving America's failing police departments." The programs would be enacted under three Congressional acts: No-Tooth-Left-Behind(NTLB), No-Patient-Left-Behind (NPLB), and No-Felon-Left-Behind (NFLB).

Under NTLB dentists' offices that reduce the rate of dental caries or cavities in their patients would receive federal tax breaks. Some dentists argue that other factors besides the quality of their care have a role in the health of patients' teeth and gums. Proponents of the proposed law scoff at such claims. They claim, without any accurate evidence, that the United States is falling dangerously behind other developed nations in oral health, and that the situation must be reversed.

NPLB would assess the "achievement" of hospitals based on the health of their patients. This would be measured by a battery of tests administered between April 22 and May 9 of each year. Some doctors argue that improving patients' health is an ongoing process and cannot be assessed by one group of tests, given once a year. These objections are being ignored in the mainstream media, however, as they cannot be accurately or engagingly summarized in ninety seconds or less.

The measure aimed at improving the performance of law enforcement, NFLB, calls for 100% of all investigations to be solved by 2012. If this does not happen, police
departments would begin to lose tax funding and be required to contract much of their services out to private security companies. Police departments that do not turn themselves around in five years would be closed and reconstituted as charter police departments. "Some people have argued that NFLB is unrealistic," said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), a co-sponsor of the legislation,"But it's for the children!"

The responses to the proposed legislation have been immediate. Across the nation doctors laying aside their stethoscopes--gynecologists are laying aside their love-- police officers have put down their guns, and dentists have put down their...their, umm, those sharp, little pointy things dentists use and their drills. These professionals have taken to the streets to protest the proposed legislation.

"Do they really believe that we're going to take this sitting down," said one protesting dentist? "Do they think that we're going to let them tear our professions apart while we carry on gamely with our work?

"Who do they think we are? Teachers!?" he laughed...

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