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Keep 'No Child Left Behind'

The Obama administration said this week it wants sweeping changes in No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s landmark education law. Specific details are yet to come, but one thing is crystal clear: no way will the signature title, “No Child Left Behind,” survive. Indeed, it’s likely that folks at the education department already are deep in thought on what the new name should be. Which, frankly, I find sort of sad, since I am hard-pressed to think of a title that so perfectly captures the aspirations of what education in America should be.

I know that the underlying law is actually called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and that it’s not unusual for presidents to want to affix their own brand to bills. President Clinton, for instance, chose “Improving America’s Schools Act.” The fact that No Child Left Behind is the legacy of Bush makes it anathema to Democrats, and probably to some Republicans.

But that, to my mind, makes an even more compelling case to keep the name. When the eight-year-old law was enacted, it was a moment of Republicans and Democrats coming together in rare agreement. What better way for President Obama to show he is serious about bipartisanship than harking back to the moment when the two political parties were able to come together on a simple but unassailable principle -- that in this country, no child should be disadvantaged by race, income or circumstance from getting a good education. Alas, that principle has yet to be realized, but the president would be making a powerful statement by keeping the name and trying to fulfill its promise.

By Jo-Ann Armao  | February 3, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
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Comments

Speaking just for myself, I find policy analysis of the "this name is great so keep it" variety sort of shallow and boring.

Posted by: sembtex | February 3, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to the title, "No Child Left Behind" which never lived up to its potential to educate all students. The title is meaningless. There were never expectations to provide a quality education for ALL students regardless of gender, ethnicity, and economic means. Its mantra was testing, testing, and more testing with no regard to the meaning of a true quality education. It was better known to many as "No Child Left Untested." Testing was used as a way to push students out and force them to drop out.

Hopefully, President Obama and his Administration will provide what has been lacking since the historic decision in Brown vs Education was handed down. A title is not what is needed, but the potential and expectation to make things happen in educating this nation's youth.

Posted by: Optimist1948 | February 3, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Since we have neighborhood schools, we have some schools composed almost entirely of children of single parents who alternately ignore, yell at and beat them. Kids in those very neighborhoods, perhaps not by chance, are immersed in a culture which mocks the sorts of discipline requisite to success in school and work.

The sooner we can disabuse ourselves of the illusion that by pouring more money into public schools and giving lots of tests and measuring this that and the other about teachers, we can *fix* those children -- the sooner we'll quit wasting our money on a fool's errand.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 3, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

No matter what it is called it had a goal a expectation a target which the new administration does not have the guts to require. The teachers lobby runs the show they want no requirements, no accountability there goal .."just show me the money" ...this what you get when a failed school chief and unions write laws.

Posted by: alanfdn | February 3, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody really believe that the learning experience in classrooms all across America will be improved by federal testing guidelines? Failing schools fudge the numbers to get fed funds. Wasted money buying dishonesty. But---It's fed funds coming to local school budgets! Not a constitutional use of fed funds, but what the heck!

Posted by: allamer1 | February 4, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Use Obama's Education Stimulus Package to earn a Medical Assistant Degree Online http://bit.ly/a80qrv


Posted by: carlbauer4 | February 4, 2010 3:43 AM | Report abuse

"No Child Left Behind" was doomed to failure from the outset because it's based on fantasy, i.e. all children are equally endowed with intelligence.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to legislate equal outcomes.

Posted by: expat1 | February 4, 2010 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Interesting, I always thought educators answered the call to teach so that no child would be left behind. Giving the expenditure of Federal dollars increasing the power of the Dept of Education under a marketing slogan is just more bull from Washington in the name of forming a more perfect society. Time to assess the need for a Federal level of education.

Posted by: My_View | February 4, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The name means nothing. The real crux is whether standard assessments stay and that is the real internal challenge for the Democratic party. The administration has indicated that they will stay. Let's hope so because public expenditure without concrete, easily understood assessment would be disastrous and unsustainable politically.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 4, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

First, children would not be left behind if there were PARENTS involved in the process, instead of parents blaming everthing on others. You kid cannot read well, blame the teacher. HOW about blaming the parents because they plop these kids down in front of a video game or TV. READ to your kids, GET INVOLVED in their education instead assigning blame to others.
As it is, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, has become all children left behind. No one wants to pay for the costs of new books or more teachers.
Can you imagine what our children would become if they had more teachers, better schools, AND parent involvement.

Posted by: kare1 | February 4, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

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