Policy Documents

No Child Left Behind - The Debate Over Reauthorization

Heartland Staff –
October 15, 2007

Across the country, school is back in session. Will No Child Left Behind (NCLB) be re-enrolled?

NCLB was initiated in 2001 with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. It has brought to the attention of parents the failure of many public schools, recognized parental choice as an important reform tool, and preserved a major role for states in setting standards.

However, NCLB also brought further intrusion by the national government into America’s public education system, imposed rules that many local school administrators say are impossible to comply with, and may have opened the door to further federal micro-management of education.

A new Research & Commentary collection from The Heartland Institute discusses the history and implementation of NCLB, with an eye toward the reauthorization process soon to begin in Congress. Inside you will learn:

  • NCLB was the largest expansion of federal control over education since the passage of federal legislation in 1979 creating the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Despite claims to the contrary, the problems with NCLB do not stem from a lack of federal money for the states. The program has led to a steep increase in national government spending on education, which now exceeds $23 billion per year; and
  • The real debate over NCLB reauthorization is how to reform the program to continue its focus on accountability to parents, choice-based reforms, and state control over standards while addressing concerns over one-size-fits-all accountability measures and the high cost of compliance—and even higher costs for noncompliance.