This is a huge victory for public health in San Francisco. In just 10 days, parents will have to show proof of vaccination to enter any indoor venue with their children under the age of five. The mandate comes after a measles scare at Disneyland infected 147 people and killed three small children in California. This law will help prevent outbreaks from happening again – and it’s a fantastic example of how government can take steps to protect its citizens from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. And if you’re not a fan of this particular mandate, well, um… prepare to be surprised. Because there’s a less stringent law in the United States that is already doing just that – and it seems to have left people scratching their heads for reasons they’ve yet been unable to articulate in a cogent manner.
The rule in question is called the No Child Left Behind Act. Passed in 2002, it’s easy to find on the internet, but for those of you who don’t feel like doing a search, here are some key points:
– Public schools must have 95% student participation rates on standardized tests or students can’t move on to higher grade levels. – Schools with a low participation rate for two years, can be sanctioned and administrators have to explain why the school is having a problem with getting students to take the tests. – Schools must show improvement in testing rates every year or face sanctions.
So… public schools are required by law to test nearly all students or they could be sanctioned and/or shut down. If they miss the mark, school administrators have to explain why. It’s that easy!
Now, if someone can explain how this law is either unenforceable or ineffectual compared to a vaccination requirement in California, we’d like to hear it.
Just to be clear, neither vaccination requirements nor standardized tests are necessarily bad things. But there’s no good reason why one state law is being hailed as the best thing since sliced bread while another is being vilified simply because it requires more of parents than they may have wanted to give. It doesn’t matter if vaccinating children means potentially better academic performance for them in the future. It doesn’t matter if having kids take standardized tests helps identify problem areas in schools that are being ignored due to low participation rates.
What matters is that both laws benefit the public at large, and nothing about one threatens personal freedom or civil liberties while the other apparently does. As long as people are allowed to opt out of vaccinations for personal reasons, it should be just as easy for them to opt out of standardized testing. Otherwise, the state is limiting a parent’s right to choose what is best for their child as well as infringing on a child’s right to an education – something that happens every time a public school fails due to low test participation rates.