Laura Bush upbraided Norah O’Donnell for ignoring the good news in Iraq, but just about the only good thing that the first lady could come up with was “schools being built.” “Refurbishing” would be a better name….mostly painting… the GAO found only a little over 800 (not to mention the fact that the US was responsible for blowing up many of them).
But the real dirty little secret here is not the exaggerations; but the fact that the genius deBaathification program fired most of the teachers in some areas.
After a few months, the CPA began to receive reports that 10,000 to 15,000 teachers had been fired because of the de-Baathification order. In some Sunni-dominated areas, entire schools were left with just one or two teachers.
Further, the program is not gonna be easily reversed:
Bremer eventually concluded that the policy had been applied “unevenly and unjustly.” But instead of rescinding his edict, he announced that appeals would be handled by a de-Baathification commission headed by Ahmed Chalabi, a controversial former exile whose informants had helped the Bush administration make the case for war. Chalabi, a Shiite, saw little need to accommodate former Baathists, most of whom are Sunnis.
I guess President Bush was kinda pullin our leg when he said
As part of our coalition’s efforts to build a stable and secure Iraq, we are working to rebuild Iraq’s schools, to get the teachers back to work and to make sure Iraqi children have the supplies they need.
Six months ago, nearly all of Iraq’s schools were closed, and many primary schools lacked electrical wiring and plumbing and windows. Today, all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools in the country. Earlier this year we said we would rehabilitate 1,000 schools by the time school started. This month, just days before the first day of class, our coalition and our Iraqi partners had refurbished over 1,500 schools.
Oh, yes, the universities….they aren’t doin so well either.
Iraq’s universities have been a target for insurgents and militias alike almost since the war began in 2003. Professors tell of armed gangs taking over buildings and classrooms and even issuing threats about grades. Thousands of students have requested transfers to campuses where their sects – Sunni Muslim or Shiite Muslim – are in the majority. Thousands of professors and students, seeking to avoid violence and threats, have fled the nation to pursue their studies in neighboring countries.
Around Baghdad, many campuses are desolate. Many families refuse to let their children, particularly women, finish their education for fear of what will happen either en route to class or once they get there.
Don’t tell Dick Cheney. He thinks things are going great.