No Child Left Behind is Back and It Hasn’t Gotten Much Better

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 and is filed under Blog

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When you  hear “No Child Left Behind,” you may cringe at the memory of a bad policy put into place back in 2002 by President George W. Bush. Many conservatives pushed against the big government program from the start — and now, we’re back at it.

Unfortunately, the federal government hasn’t “left it behind” yet.

Congress is currently looking at a re-authorization of the failed legislation, which is the largest federal law governing education policy for students in grades K-12.

This time they are branding it the Student Success Act (SSA) and it’s moving along rather quickly — up for a vote this Thursday in fact.

The SSA combines dozens of different programs originally authorized under NCLB and like much of what comes out of Washington, the details are easy get confused.

Supporters are touting the “flexibility” this new version would give states but that line should  be taken with a grain of salt. In reality, the “flexibility” is very small, and the SSA would only perpetuate the problems caused by NCLB as a whole.

Lindsey Burke, and education policy analyst from the Heritage Foundation, writes:

NCLB currently authorizes roughly $24 billion in spending for the nearly 80 programs that fall under the law. Providing flexibility within a single title of the law totaling just 10 percent of overall spending in NCLB, and within a limited scope, is a missed opportunity to truly restore state and local decision-making.

There’s always something. In this case, there are multiple things. For example, the new version of NCLB doesn’t slow spending, cut programs or allow education dollars to follow students.

What’s the point in renewing a program that has made little impact on test scores —  one of the main components of the program — and taken away from other important aspects of educational life?  With so much focus on national test standards, funds were diverted from other things and educational freedom denied. Most of all, it doesn’t do anything to reduce federal mandates and make education effective at the local level.

States shouldn’t be forced into another long tour of duty under this big government monstrosity. Education works best at the local level, where parents, teachers, students and local government make the decisions for themselves.