The Present and Future of No Child Left Behind

Remember No Child Left Behind, the comprehensive education reform passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2002? I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting. While the law is still on the books, most states (including Texas) have obtained waivers allowing them to bypass the program’s toughest regulations.

The original stated purpose of NCLB was to ensure that all US children – 100% – would test on grade level by 2014. As a rather critical piece on NPR pointed out in October, this goal was perhaps too ambitious to be realistic, and even were that not the case, we are nowhere near achieving it.

For a long time, it appeared as though NCLB was going to be swept under the rug and forgotten – and some people would argue that that’s for the best. Others, however, feel that the program could do real good if it was updated with careful planning and an eye toward avoiding negative side effects.

One person who still believes in the potential of NCLB is Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who will be returning to Washington in January as the head of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions. The Senator does not intend to allow NCLB to remain forgotten – in fact, he intends to update and rejuvenate it. He recently released a statement averring that his top priority in the new year will be the creation of a new, updated No Child Left Behind Law, which he hopes to have passed and signed into law by the end of 2015. Will it work? We shall see.

You can read more about Senator Alexander’s goals for NCLB here.

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