The Unbelievable Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

If you were to look back at the top failures of the Bush Administration and the Republican majorities of the last decade, the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) would likely be the first.

NCLB was the landmark legislation in which George W. Bush, then-committee chairman John Boehner, and Ted Kennedy cut a deal to mandate that states test reading and math annually in grades 3-8 and again in high school. It was a gross overreach of the federal government that led to widespread dissatisfaction among school administrators, teachers, and students and the need to “teach to the test.” In the name of spreading “accountability,” NCLB led to a massive expansion of the federal role in education.

Symbolically, NCLB is right up there with the Medicare prescription drug benefit, TARP, and the explosion in spending in the pantheon of the George W. Bush’s domestic policy screw ups.

Now that the House and Senate are back in Republican control, you would think that Republicans would be running from this sad legacy. Instead, they are entrenching it.

Next week the House of Representatives will vote on the “Student Success Act” (H.R. 5) to reauthorize NCLB until 2021. It would extend current the testing mandates that are the hallmark of the law. The 600-page bill would make some reforms at the margin, but nothing designed to reduce the federal government’s role in the education system. House conservatives need to vote H.R. 5 down.

Some will argue that they voted for the same bill in the last Congress. They did. Honestly, who cares now? Maybe they didn’t have enough information to know it reauthorized NCLB. The Senate was then in the hands of the Democrats. It really does not matter now. They have an opportunity to get right on the issue by opposing a long-term extension of NCLB by voting against H.R. 5. Please call and make sure they do.

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