I Believe that Big Whopping Bags of Cash are the Future

You know, it's very heartwarming and inspiring to me that, no matter what problems and tragedies might occur in this country, no matter what hardships we may endure as a nation, we can all go to bed secure in the knowledge that the Bushes are always taken care of.

No Bush Left Behind: The President's Brother Neil is Making Hay from School Reform
Across the country, some teachers complain that President George W. Bush's makeover of public education promotes "teaching to the test." The President's younger brother Neil takes a different tack: He's selling to the test. The No Child Left Behind Act compels schools to prove students' mastery of certain facts by means of standardized exams. Pressure to perform has energized the $1.9 billion-a-year instructional software industry.

Now, after five years of development and backing by investors like Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and onetime junk-bond king Michael R. Milken, Neil Bush aims to roll his high-tech teacher's helpers into classrooms nationwide. He calls them "curriculum on wheels," or COWs. The $3,800 purple plug-and-play computer/projectors display lively videos and cartoons: the XYZ Affair of the late 1790s as operetta, the 1828 Tariff of Abominations as horror flick. The device plays songs that are supposed to aid the memorization of the 22 rivers of Texas or other facts that might crop up in state tests of "essential knowledge."

Bush's Ignite! Inc. has sold 1,700 COWs since 2005, mainly in Texas, where Bush lives and his brother was once governor. In August, Houston's school board authorized expenditures of up to $200,000 for COWs. The company expects 2006 revenue of $5 million. Says Bush about the impact of his name: "I'm not saying it hasn't opened any doors. It may have helped with some sales." (In September, the U.S. Education Dept.'s inspector general accused the agency of improperly favoring at least five publishers, including The McGraw-Hill Companies, which owns BusinessWeek. A company spokesman says: "Our reading programs have been successful in advancing student achievement for decades; that's why educators hold them in such high regard.")
Yes, the Bush name "may have helped with some sales," otherwise, it had absolutley nothing to do with it. All self-made men, those Bushes. And I find their choice of "horror flick" material to be very interesting, namely, a tariff that hurt the cotton-producing South. I wonder if the slaves that actually picked the cotton are mentioned in this little "lively horror flick?"

While hardly the first brother to embarrass a President - remember Billy Carter's Billy Beer or Roger Clinton's cocaine? - Neil could be the first to seek profit from a hallmark Presidential crusade. And also that of a governor: Jeb makes school standards a centerpiece in Florida, too.

Neil says he never talks shop with his brothers. He attributes his interest in education to his struggles with dyslexia. His son, Pierce, also had difficulties in school, he says. "Not one of our investors has ever asked for any kind of special access - a visa, a trip to the Lincoln Bedroom, an autographed picture, or anything."
It's all just so down-home and innocent, isn't it? And nepotism has nothing to do with it. (I like the little jab at the Clenis with that Lincoln Bedroom comment, too.)

I suppose the nice thing about being the Zeppo of the Bush brothers is that no one really seems to pay the slightest attention to what you're doing.

Apparently, even with all of their "crusades for education," the one phrase that has never made it into the Bush vocabulary is Conflict of Interest.

(Tip o the Energy Dome to Crooks & Liars. You can't keep a good cross-post down.)

Edit: I can't believe I missed the obvious "cash COW" joke. I'm slipping.

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