While riding a wave of political bipartisan support in early 2002, President George W. Bush signed legislation that sought to massively remedy the woeful shape of America’s educational outcomes. Popularly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), this law established a variety of federal standards to help every American child reach minimum levels of “proficiency” in the basic areas of reading and math. Although NCLB was initially greeted with high hopes from both sides of the political aisle, with the passing of time these expectations have quickly soured.
The sour feelings toward NCLB are not without merit, however, for many of the law’s foundational principles have produced several unintended ill-effects. For instance, the emphasis on raising test scores of struggling students has caused higher achieving students to be neglected and unchallenged, and the emphasis on basic skills of reading and math have caused other important subjects such as history to be pushed aside. In addition to these consequences, the low levels of academic improvement and the high pressure stakes of NCLB have inadvertently encouraged states to set their standards lower and lower in order to maintain a good appearance and standing in the sight of the federal government.
Despite the failings of NCLB, our educational system is still maneuvering through its standards and expectations, and many agree that NCLB is probably here to stay. In light of this fact, this library section seeks to explore the history behind NCLB, its growth and progress, and its many negative and positive aspects. This section also presents a variety of ideas and ways in which NCLB can be reformed and used to better the educational system in a free and prosperous society.