President George W. Bush signs No Child Left Behind Act into law

President George W. Bush signs No Child Left Behind Act into law

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On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law. The sweeping update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 created new standards and goals for the nation’s public schools and implemented tough corrective measures for schools that failed to meet them. Today, it is largely regarded as a failed experiment.

NCLB passed both houses of Congress easily and with bipartisan support. Future Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, and longtime Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy were among its sponsors. The bill aimed to address what both parties agreed was an unacceptable drop in standards in America’s public schools. The new law mandated that states create measures of Adequate Yearly Progress based on standardized tests. Schools that did not meet AYP requirements were subject to increasingly harsher actions by the state, such as giving students the options to transfer after 2 years of missing AYP goals or even the wholesale restructuring of a school after 5 years.

While some schools did see improvements in test scores, the results were uneven and often negative. Teachers complained that standardized testing cut into class time and forced them to “teach to the test” rather than to their students’ needs. Many felt that requiring all schools statewide to achieve the same goals unfairly punished both schools that were already performing well and schools in underserved areas. Others argued in principle against threatening underperforming schools with corrective measures, while some accused Republicans of using the law to turn private schools over to charter school companies or private businesses.

In 2015, NCLB was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which retained parts of the old law but attempted to make it less punitive to underperforming schools. Today, NCLB is often cited as an overly harsh approach to education reform, while many Americans simply remember it as the reason they had to take so many standardized tests.

READ MORE: In Early 1800s American Classrooms, Students Governed Themselves

George W. Bush Looks Forward After No Child Left Behind

George W. Bush is writing a sequel to his big education act. The No Child Left Behind law was signed almost a decade ago, with overwhelming approval from Congress (384 to 45 in the House and 91 to 8 in the Senate). Now, amid a bipartisan effort to gut its accountability measures, the former President is quietly pushing new education-reform initiatives aimed at improving and empowering school principals, who too often lack the training or authority to effectively run their schools. And once again, he’s approaching this massive education problem by blurring political lines.

I was invited in my role as TIME’s education columnist to sit in on a small meeting this week that Bush organized in New York City, and I was struck by the roster of advisers he had assembled to guide the George W. Bush Institute’s education work. The group included some big names in the education non-profit world as well as leaders of traditional public schools and charter schools. But by my informal count, most of the 10 people around the table were Democrats, including Clinton and Obama administration alums. “He cares about education deeply, and he gets it,” one staunchly Democratic education consultant, who now works with the institute, told me. The former President has already recruited officials from his administration as well as liberal stalwarts like Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust and Democratic education leaders like former North Carolina Governor James Hunt.

Education has long been a personal priority for Bush, who has said he ran for Texas governor in large part to improve the schools there. Now his institute is fighting hard against America’s complacency about our schools. This fall, for instance, it released a Global Report Card showing that even the wealthiest districts in the country, including Palo Alto, Calif., and the suburbs surrounding Washington, score no better on math, science and reading tests than average schools in 25 developed countries. The institute is looking at complicated and controversial issues such as education finance, teacher pensions and middle schools. These are genuine — and generally overlooked — problems.

But Bush’s decision to focus on school leadership is a particularly interesting choice because it’s an issue more likely to land you on the op-ed page being lambasted than on the front page being praised. When you look around the country, it’s pretty clear that changes are coming to how teachers are selected and prepared and the basic outline of those changes are clear. But when it comes to school leadership, there are a few scattered pockets of excellence — innovative or well-regarded training programs run by universities or non-profits — but in general it’s a brownfield with little systemic attention and plenty of thorny politics.

Bush said at the meeting that he wants to ensure accountability for principals and better “align responsibility and authority” in policy and practice. That’s a concise take on the complicated and sprawling issue of school leadership and management, but it tightly sums up the challenge. At the conference room overlooking midtown Manhattan, Bush asked different school leaders about what they can and can’t do to make decisions about budgets, personnel and other school issues and engaged in some lively back and forth about different diagnoses of the problems and possible solutions. He also wanted to know whether they have enough information on student achievement and can act on it and whether today’s accountability systems were sufficient or were being watered down. He didn’t come out and say it, but it seemed clear that the abandonment of tough accountability measures in Washington was on his mind.

Bush told the group he wanted his education work to be practical with measurable results and “not just think-tank stuff.” He also made clear he wants to change the system without getting mired in politics. At the beginning of the discussion, he asked the group: “How can you be active in public policy without being immersed in politics?” It was a largely rhetorical question and left unsaid was the complicating factor of being a former President of the United States whose political legacy is still being hotly debated.

The education debate about George W. Bush is loaded with irony. The same President who is attacked by the left for pushing through tax cuts that benefited the wealthy is being assailed by the right for education policies that focus on disadvantaged students allegedly at the expense of high-achieving ones. But Bush remains steadfast. He considers No Child Left Behind a piece of civil rights legislation, and while his party is running from his education record, some education leaders are starting to run toward his institute and its work. Several non-profit leaders told me that they believe his institute can have an important impact on education if people can come together and find a way to achieve the former President’s goal — i.e., influencing policy without getting immersed in politics. That’s never easy in education and is especially tricky given the strong feelings that exist about the President. He’s clearly game for trying. Now that he is out of office, the question is, will the education world meet him in the middle?

Andrew J. Rotherham @arotherham

Rotherham is a co-founder and partner at the nonprofit Bellwether Education, a national non-profit organization which, among other activities, does paid consulting work for clients including school districts, charter schools, and educational organizations around the country. The views expressed are solely his own.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Background Information

On January 8, 2002, then President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLBA). This legislation reauthorized, and provided major reform, to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).

The Cold War and the Soviet Union's successful launch of the Sputnik spacecraft in October 1957 brought calls for improvements to the nation's educational system. In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy developed proposals to ensure that American students were competitive with students around the world. His proposals were intended to guarantee that students of every race, religion, and social standing would receive a good education. After Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson revised Kennedy's proposals, and oversaw their introduction in Congress. Part of Johnson's "War on Poverty," ESEA was the most expansive federal education legislation ever passed. The bill passed with little debate and in only three months' time.

ESEA provided federal funding for 90 percent of the nation's public and parochial schools. Title 1, the law's most important provision, provides guidelines for the education of "educationally disadvantaged" students. It also provides funds: more than 80 percent of the original appropriation under ESEA went to ESEA. According to the Department of Education, 12.5 million students in public and private schools are served through Title I.

Part of ESEA's legacy has been controversy. Prior to ESEA, educational policy decisions had been almost exclusively in the hands of state and local governments. Critics have charged that the federal government has become too involved in regulating educational matters better left to local school districts. The federal government now provides approximately seven percent of the total funding for elementary and secondary schools.

Critics of ESEA have also charged that Title 1 has done little to raise student performance, because it did not mandate accountability for academic results. No Child Left Behind was crafted to address that issue. According to Congress, the two goals of NCLBA are accountability for schools and teachers, and closing the achievement gap for students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, "so that no child is left behind." No Child Left Behind's lofty and worthy goals brought it broad bipartisan support in Congress, but its implementation has engendered considerable controversy.

President Obama Signs Education Law, Leaving 'No Child' Behind

President Obama smiles Thursday after signing the Every Student Succeeds Act, a major education law setting U.S. public schools on a new course of accountability.

President Obama called it "a Christmas miracle. A bipartisan bill signing right here."

The "right here" was the South Court Auditorium, part of the White House complex. More importantly, the bipartisan bill being signed was the Every Student Succeeds Act — a long-overdue replacement of the unpopular federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.

The new law changes much about the federal government's role in education, largely by scaling back Washington's influence. While ESSA keeps in place the basic testing requirements of No Child Left Behind, it strips away many of the high stakes that had been attached to student scores.

The job of evaluating schools and deciding how to fix them will shift largely back to states. Gone too is the requirement, added several years ago by the Obama administration, that states use student scores to evaluate teachers.

The new law, which passed the House and Senate with rare, resounding bipartisan support, would also expand access to high-quality preschool.

Before the signing, President Obama made clear that he believed the goals of NCLB — namely high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap — were the right ones. But in practice, he said, the law fell short.

"It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn't always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see," Obama said.

NCLB was signed by President George W. Bush in early 2002 and was, itself, an update of a much older law — the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. While ESSA officially marks the end of the NCLB era, the majority of states have for several years received waivers from the Obama administration, exempting them from some of the law's toughest requirements.

George W. Bush's Education Law, No Child Left Behind, Abandoned By Texas

It's official. Texas is leaving behind George W. Bush's baby -- the No Child Left Behind education law.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Monday that he approved the application of Texas, Bush's home state, for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. This makes Texas the 42nd state to receive permission to ditch the notorious education law's most onerous strictures.

No Child Left Behind, a signature Bush initiative, was signed into law more than a decade ago. It required standardized testing of students and a system of penalties for schools whose students scored below benchmarks chosen to demonstrate proficiency. At the time, the law was notable for both its bipartisan support -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) both appear in the portrait of the bill's signing -- and for dramatically expanding the federal government's reach into the nation's schools.

No Child Left Behind was primarily based on education reforms that originated in Texas. In the late-1990s, Sandy Kress, a White House official during Jimmy Carter's presidency, became interested in education and proposed an accountability plan designed to shock Dallas's schools out of their stagnation. Kress, a career politician with ties to business, called for giving schools more control over spending in exchange for consequences based on standardized test performance. These ideas became law under then-Gov. Ann Richards.

Bush, as Texas governor, renewed the law in 1995. Bush used Texas school accountability during his campaign for president, and signed No Child Left Behind into federal law a few years later.

The law expired in 2007. In 2008, President Barack Obama campaigned on freeing states from No Child Left Behind, which had been derided by states and teachers for being overly prescriptive, for using shoddy measures, and for encouraging teachers to teach to the test.

But the Obama administration could not get Congress to rewrite the law to its liking. A House bill written by Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) passed the chamber this summer, but the administration said it rolled back school accountability too much. In 2011, the Obama administration said it would allow states to apply for waivers from some of the law's strictures in exchange for compliance with key Obama education priorities: higher learning standards, teacher and principal evaluations based on students' standardized test scores, and revamped accountability systems for schools.

Under the waiver, Texas will no longer subscribe to the much-derided "Adequate Yearly Progress" system that measures school performance and requires all students to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year. Instead, it will use a new accountability system that expects 100 percent of students to be proficient in reading and math by the 2019-2020 school year.

The waiver is conditional, and lasts for only one year, because Texas hasn't firmed up its teacher evaluation process. According to the waiver document, the state will submit final guidelines for educator evaluations by May 2014 and will"include student growth as a significant factor."

"There's been a perception of Texas that's disproportionate to the reality," said Andy Rotherham, a former Clinton White House education official who now runs the Washington-based consulting firm Bellwether Education Partners. "Texas became this battleground -- if you could discredit Texas, you could discredit the national No Child Left Behind policy. You'll get the same thing now. There is an outsized significance to Texas's waiver because it's Texas."

It was unclear whether Texas would win a waiver. Its initial application in September 2011 didn't seem to follow all of the administration's guidelines. But according to a government document, the state has made significant "improvements" since applying.

Those tweaks include creating a system for holding schools accountable based on the administration's guidelines for identifying the best and worst schools, devising a process for consulting with teachers to implement the waiver, and promising to support teachers in transitioning to new learning standards.

"Forty two states and the District of Columbia can't wait any longer for education reform," Duncan said in a statement. "Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has been a viable partner throughout this process and his leadership on this issue demonstrates his commitment to providing the best education possible for our children."

Williams said he visited Duncan several times to discuss the waiver. "The underlying message throughout our negotiations with the federal government has been Texans know what's best for Texas schools," Williams said in a statement. "I believe our school districts will appreciate the additional flexibility this waiver provides while also adhering to our strong principles on effective public education."

The Big Idea of School Accountability

Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Elementary and Secondary Education Bill in front of his childhood schoolhouse, with his first teacher, Kate Deadrich Loney at his side. April 11, 1965. (Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Library)
Listen to audio of Johnson's remarks

Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Elementary and Secondary Education Bill in front of his childhood schoolhouse, with his first teacher, Kate Deadrich Loney at his side. April 11, 1965. (Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Library)
Listen to audio of Johnson's remarks

For the first half of the last century, Americans lived with a deep inequity built into their education system . Communities were allowed to educate minority students in schools that were separate from and unequal to the campuses in which white students enrolled.

The Big Idea of School Accountability

William McKenzie ( bill_mckenzie) is Editorial Director at the Bush Institute. He previously served for 22 years as an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News. Read more

Sandy Kress is Senior Advisor in the Education Reform initiative at the Bush Institute. He served as senior advisor to President George W. Bush on education. Read more

In 1954, the Supreme Court famously struck down that political and economic perversion in its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. In theory at least, the color of a student's skin would no longer determine the school they attended.

Within a decade, the search for justice gave birth to another big idea: Not only would racial walls come down on campuses, no longer would it be right to have major gaps between the academic achievement of white and minority students. This muscular notion led to the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1965, which later became known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The law embodied the belief that schools in disadvantaged communities would receive the resources to provide their students a decent education. At the same time, the nation needed to know whether poor and minority students were achieving in their classes. America’s progress depended upon their progress as well as that of white and higher income students.

Arising from this big idea came another revolutionary concept. School districts and campuses would be held responsible by policymakers and taxpayers if they did not provide a decent education for every student. This idea came to be known as school accountability, and it was built around three principles: Creating rigorous academic standards, measuring student progress against those standards, and attaching some consequence to the results.

Those core values remain a central, yet contested element in American education. Fierce discussions roil across states about who should hold schools accountable, how they should hold them accountable, and what should happen if schools do not show progress for all their students.

The debate is intensifying with many states easing up on their expectations for students, educators, and parents questioning annual, independent exams. As that debate continues, it is important to remember our past and why the concepts behind school accountability arose. It also is essential to understand why they still matter.

Why Accountability Matters &mdash and How It Can Be Improved

Margaret Spellings, President of the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Accountability's Proud Parentage

The history of school accountability first tells us that the idea and its principles have strong parentage. They have drawn the support of Democrats and Republicans, leaders of business and the civil rights community, and parents and educators.

Look back to 1965 and Lyndon Johnson’s passage of his historic education law. The legislation moved through the U.S. House of Representatives with 263 votes. A strong majority of 73 senators similarly passed the law in their chamber.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House Oval Office, June 22, 1966. (Yoichi R. Okamoto/NARA)

As a senator, Robert F. Kennedy argued during debate over the bill to evaluate the progress of all students. Emerging as a voice for the poor and left behind, Kennedy said during a 1965 Senate hearing on the law:

“I think it is very difficult for a person who lives in a community to know whether, in fact, his educational system is what it should be, whether if you compare his community to a neighboring community they are doing everything they should be, whether the people that are operating the educational system in a state or local community are as good as they should be.

“…I wonder if we couldn’t have some system of reporting…through some testing system that would be established (by) which the people at the local community would know periodically…what progress had been made.”

Of course, Johnson's imprint was all over this bipartisan bill and its principles. The Democrat even signed the act at the one-room schoolhouse that he attended on the banks of the Pedernales River in Johnson City, Texas. Johnson observed at the time: “As President of the United States, I believe deeply no law I have signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America.”

A Superintendent's View

Mike Miles, Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, discusses how accountability can help educators in their mission of improving students' proficiency.

During this same period, policymakers started developing the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Advocates in the War on Poverty wanted to know whether all students were moving ahead. By the end of the 1960s, the standardized test was given voluntarily in schools.

Ever since that period, school accountability has continued to evolve.

In the 1970s, as desegregation took hold, students started improving on the NAEP exam, which became known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The nation also began to implement the idea of equity in terms of resources and facilities for disadvantaged students and their schools.

In Dallas, for example, the school district finally began to assess students who previously had not been tested. Before the early 1970s, the Dallas school district was not required to give the Iowa Test of Basic Skills exam to minority students.

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration's "A Nation at Risk" report prompted states to get more serious about elevating their expectations for students. The report shocked many Americans as it detailed how U.S. schools were falling behind campuses around the world.

In depth: "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform", April 1983.
Read the full report

The economy was then becoming more global, and President Reagan embraced the report’s recommendations to raise academic standards, measure students’ mastery of those standards, and improve the curriculum that schools use in their classrooms. President Reagan spent many weeks and months promoting the report and its concepts. As he put it upon receiving “A Nation at Risk”:

“You've found that our educational system is in the grip of a crisis caused by low standards, lack of purpose, ineffective use of resources, and a failure to challenge students to push performance to the boundaries of individual ability—and that is to strive for excellence.”

In Reagan’s last term, Education Secretary William J. Bennett took these beliefs even further. If more dollars were going to flow into schools to improve their work, there had to be some way of measuring for results. The secretary even kept a map on his wall showing various levels of progress across the states.

During the 1980s in Texas, Ross Perot championed "No Pass, No Play" as a way to alert schools and students alike that star athletes would not shine under Friday night lights if they did not achieve in the classroom. “No Pass, No Play” attracted national attention as the standards-and-accountability effort took further shape.

Texas' Republican Governor Bill Clements also set Texas up to become a leader in the school accountability movement. He pressed state legislators to fund a commission to examine whether the state's schools were preparing students for an economy that was turning exceedingly technological. This commission provided the framework for the accountability standards that the state would later adopt.

President George H.W. Bush attends the second working session of the Education Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia, September 28, 1989. (David Valdez/NARA)

In the 1990s, the standards-and-accountability movement picked up even greater momentum. After a 1989 summit involving President George H.W. Bush and the nation’s governors, including then-Governor Bill Clinton, leaders from both parties started pushing for more rigorous assessments of student performance. They supported regular means of examining students to see if they were meeting higher expectations.

The proof of this bipartisan backing was evident when Democratic and Republican governors started building upon each others' committment. That was particularly true in states such as Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas when they passed school accountability laws. The RAND Corporation published a paper in 2000 citing both Texas and North Carolina as the two states that got it right and made the greatest gains in student achievement in the decade.

In Texas’ case, GOP Governor George W. Bush of Texas and Democratic Lt. Governor Bob Bullock backed requiring an annual state examination of students. They also supported a clear breakdown of the results.

By breaking apart the data, parents and educators could see how well schools were serving students from all backgrounds. Intentionally or not, schools previously could hide low-performing students behind the forward march of their high-performers. Being able to see school performance data in terms of race, income, disability, and gender tore down that wall. Indeed, gains were made for all students.

Mathematics Proficiency in Texas by Race

Percentages at or above each achievement level for mathematics, grade 8 by year (White students)

Data source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Accommodations were not provided in 1990, 1992, and 1996. The basic level on the NAEP is defined as partial mastery of the knowledge and skills at each grade proficient is defined as solid academic performance for each grade assessed and advanced is defined as superior performance.

Percentages at or above each achievement level for mathematics, grade 8 by year (Black students)

Data source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Black includes African American. Accommodations were not provided in 1990, 1992, and 1996. The basic level on the NAEP is defined as partial mastery of the knowledge and skills at each grade proficient is defined as solid academic performance for each grade assessed and advanced is defined as superior performance.

Percentages at or above each achievement level for mathematics, grade 8 by year (Hispanic students)

Data source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Hispanic includes Latino. Accommodations were not provided in 1990, 1992, and 1996. The basic level on the NAEP is defined as partial mastery of the knowledge and skills at each grade proficient is defined as solid academic performance for each grade assessed and advanced is defined as superior performance.

In the 2000s, another bipartisan coalition came together to build upon the foundation of the previous four decades. After becoming president, George W. Bush partnered with Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire to pass the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

During negotiations over that legislation, which was an update of President Johnson’s earlier law, Kennedy picked up on the passion of his brother Bobby for making sure all students were moving ahead. Their common belief in that fundamental idea led the Massachusetts Democrat to champion NCLB.

President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, January 1, 2002. (Paul Morse/NARA)

President Bush used the phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations” as a way to explain the need for this legislation, which required all states to see whether their students were meeting the standards of their states. Importantly, the law ensured the results are transparent so parents, schools and taxpayers can see how well each group of students performs in a district and on a campus.

Prior to that requirement, annual exams were not given in most states. When state tests were required, they usually were offered once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school. Nor was the data usually reported in an easy-to-understand way so parents, taxpayers and educators could see how schools performed according to the race, income, disability, and gender of their students. And, disturbingly, there were few consequences for any of the results.

In our current decade, accountability has come to include using data from test scores to give a fuller and more contextual evaluation of classroom teachers. A number of states and school districts are including some form of classroom data in their reviews of instructors. In states like Tennessee and cities like Dallas and Houston, use of student data is becoming part of the way to evaluate the job performance of teachers.

The strong flow of information also is being used to measure how much students grow in a subject each year. Annual data allows schools to measure student growth in a more accurate way and give credit to a teacher's hard work in catching a student up.

The Difference Accountability Has Made

For a time, student progress flowed from these efforts. Student scores on key indicators showed a movement forward, even if there was still plenty of room for improvement. The advancement was especially true for poor and minority students, the very ones the accountability movement was given birth to benefit.

Nationally, the data shows that test scores in key subjects like math and reading rose. Sometimes, they rose dramatically, especially as the era of accountability with consequences took root.

National math scores, age nine by race

Data source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Long-Term Trend Mathematics Assessments, scale from 0 to 500.

National reading scores, age nine by race

Data source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Long-Term Trend Reading Assessments, scale from 0 to 500.

Math scores of nine-year old Hispanic students on the NAEP exams improved from 1999 to 2008 by the equivalent of almost two grades. Likewise, NAEP math scores for nine-year old African-American students increased over that time by about one-and-a-half grades.

Scores in the make-or-break subject of reading shot up, too. From 1999 to 2008, black and Hispanic nine-year olds grew by two grade levels in reading, according to NAEP results.

Similarly, the achievement gap between white and minority students started to close. The gap narrowed most noticeably during the period when the nation vigorously focused on results.

In the 1990s, when the idea of serious consequences for school performance was only starting to develop in states, the achievement gaps between whites and students of color actually grew in some key areas. But in the era of strengthened accountability, the gaps narrowed for nine- and thirteen-year old African-American and Hispanic students between 1999 and 2008 in such critical areas as math.

At the same time, scores for white students in 2008 were the highest ever in both reading and math for nine- and thirteen-year olds. What was good for poor and minority students was good for all students.

These trend lines confirm what education researchers have found when examining school accountability. A review of 14 studies by researchers David Figlio and Susannah Loeb show that annual tests and sanctions have led to higher scores. Their study concludes: “…the preponderance of evidence suggests positive effects of the accountability movement in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s on student achievement, especially in math.”

Similarly, a 2013 study in the American Economic Journal reveals that states, districts, and schools have responded to data from tests. A review of Florida’s accountability system showed that educators focused on subjects being tested and ensuring that curricula and instruction align with what is being tested.

Some people will look at reports like these and think there is an undue emphasis on testing. Or they may think that education is being distorted just to improve test scores. What they really show is that effectively teaching to the standards set by state leaders can lead to student success.

Accountability in Retreat

Yet here we are, nearly five decades after the birth of this big idea, and school accountability is losing momentum. How could that be? How could reforms that helped improve student performance, especially among minority students, start to lose favor?

Several reasons explain the waning support.

For starters, these classroom gains were hard-gotten. They took a toll on people, including among supporters of accountability. Change-agents often grow weary of pushing a boulder up a hill. No matter how compelling their cause, the process wears them down. That was true in this debate, where some wanted change faster than it came. They lost interest and moved on.

President George W. Bush at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library, April 10, 2014

Educators called upon to implement higher standards also started pulling back. The higher the bar went up to show success, the greater the challenge they faced. Resistance built up among superintendents, principals and teachers.

Some districts also overdid testing. They administered too many of their own benchmark tests before their state's annual exam. Currently, states are only required to administer one annual test in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. A Center for American Progress study found that districts administer more tests than states. In one district in Kentucky, students were tested 20 times a year. The state only required four of them.

Accountability's concepts have not always been implemented well, either. There is no other way around it: mistakes were made. One example is the school rating systems that states have developed using data from their annual tests. Those rankings often are too confusing or unfathomable for parents and educators to understand. Even worse, the data was often provided too late to use in making decisions about where to send their children to school.

Part of the backlash also has been orchestrated and well-financed. Teacher unions have strongly supported the opposition. They have poured money into efforts to resist independent, objective tests. So have parent groups in some states.

Never mind that those exams provide data for schools and parents to see how well campuses are performing compared to others within a town or state. Never mind that such tests show how well an educator is helping his or her students improve. Never mind that the results may show where an instructor needs professional help.

How Accountability Helps Educators

David Chard, Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU and Chris Garcia, Teaching Trust and Former Principal, Uplift Peak Preparatory discuss school accountability.

Union leaders continue to make full-throated complaints against standardized testing. “The fixation on testing and data over everything else is a fundamental flaw in how our nation approaches public education,” wrote Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a Huffington Post blog entry.

The concepts also have been watered down as states have received waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. In some cases, states were given exemptions from the law's key requirement to show adequate yearly progress.

Similarly, the revolt over the Common Core’s standards and assessments has contributed to the pushback against school accountability. In states like California and New York, parents and educators are rising up against the testing that goes along with those standards.

Beyond Common Core, some states have decided on their own to weaken some of their academic standards and annual exams. Texas legislators decided in their 2013 session to allow some students to skip annual tests in grades three-thru-eight. The Obama administration wisely overruled that idea as it considered giving Texas a waiver from NCLB.

During that same session, legislators substantially reduced the number of tests that high school students must take. They also reduced rigorous course requirements for some high school students. The primary dissenter was Democratic Rep. Mark Strama of Austin. There may be ways to improve testing, he noted, but the reason for a clear, common assessment is that it “hold(s) all the kids across the state to the same standard.”

The scene was a striking contrast to 20 years before. In 1993, a bipartisan majority of Texas legislators approved a new school accountability system.

Accountability’s Next Chapter

So, the resistance is there. No one can question that. But, if this were the subject of heart disease, would we simply end the conversation? Or suggest that we quit testing the patient?

Of course not. We would continue to search for the right answers – for the patient’s sake.

The same is true with school accountability, the ultimate aim of which is to improve student achievement. Student advancement has been the goal through Republican and Democratic administrations. There certainly are ways to keep improving upon these concepts, but education reform is never complete. We can’t let the search for answers slow us down – for the students’ sake.

Students increasingly need the means to become mobile after they leave high school, whether that means going to college or finding a good-paying job with an equally good future. They will enter a world that is more competitive, not less.

In fact, more than at any point in American history, economic and social mobility depends upon having higher-order skills. The ability to innovate and solve problems is increasingly valued in a service-oriented, technology-driven economy.

By contrast, low-skill jobs are not projected to grow substantially, as the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin reports. Even middle-skill jobs are in less demand. Those jobs declined in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, according to a study by economist Anton Cheremukhin of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. Jobs that required critical thinking increased in each of those decades.

Related Reading On the Bush Institute Blog

Every Student Matters
The Bush Institute offers this document as a way to explain why policymakers of all stripes should retain yearly, objective exams. Annual assessment data is critical to inform parents, teachers, and the public about how all students are performing. Read more

Mayors' Report Card on Education
Early in 2014, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings approached the Bush Institute with a unique, challenging idea: Create a scorecard for mayors to use in evaluating their cities' major school district. Read more

Would You Want Your Doctor to Quit Testing You?
Like blood pressure measurements, we should not talk ourselves into believing that all is fine if we just test less often. Information can reveal problems. It doesn’t cause them. We need to be asking how we are addressing problems that the information tells us are there. Read more

Parents certainly understand the need to make sure their children are moving toward good opportunities. Polling data shows parents prefer actual achievement over gradual progress.

According to a survey by pollster David Winston, 58 percent of parents said they did not consider it a success if a student entered school a year behind and caught up half a grade over the course of that same year. Minority parents especially did not consider simply showing progress a successful outcome.

Sixty-one percent of African-American parents said catching up half a grade was not success. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic parents responded similarly.

Indeed, 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education and 50 years after the Elementary and Secondary School Act, the role of minority students remains critical to the future of the United States. Perhaps even more so.

The latest Census Bureau data for Hispanic students alone show they make up about a quarter of the nation’s public school enrollment. That figure was up from 17 percent in 2000 and is projected to grow significantly, especially in large, diverse states like Texas and California.

We already see what a retreat from accountability can mean. Nationally, scores on leading indicators like the NAEP exams show stagnation over the last half-decade. The rapid gains in math and reading have tapered off for nine-year olds.

In Texas, data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows that college completion rates for Latinos and African-Americans are starting to flatten out after several years of progress. That progress had been built upon the foundation of a strong K-12 system. Now that Texas has started to change that system, state policymakers should pay attention to the warning signs.

For these reasons, students cannot afford for policymakers, parents and educators to retreat from school accountability. Instead, this is the time to get more young Americans ready for post-secondary success, ready for the better jobs and ready to complete the extra education they will need to get to those better jobs. Put another way, now is the time to continue the climb to the summit of the mountain.

To be sure, there are ways to improve state accountability systems, as well as the No Child Left Behind law. As a nation, we need to have a conversation about how to mend, not end school accountability. That conversation should involve parents, educators and policymakers.

As a starter, we offer these suggestions:

  • Schools need annual, statewide independent testing in reading and math. They don’t need a heavy volume of tests.
  • Overloading students with too many district benchmark exams is not productive. That is especially true when those tests are poorly aligned with a state’s standards. Parents should be getting better information on the different types of testing, who requires the test, and the purpose of the test.
  • Schools need carrots to improve, not just sticks. For example, find ways to reward schools that show significant improvement in getting students ready for college or a career.

As a nation, we must preserve and build upon the principles that have led to gains in student achievement. If we do not know the difference between mending accountability as opposed to ending it, we will return to the world of leaving children behind.

This is something we cannot do. We cannot do it for the sake of our economy. We cannot do it for the sake of our children. And we cannot do it and remain true to the values of equality and justice that have marked our path since Brown v. Board of Education set out to eliminate the deep inequities within our education system.

© 2015 George W. Bush Presidential Center

The George W. Bush Presidential Center, rooted in the guiding principles of President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, engages communities in the United States and around the world by cultivating leaders and advancing policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

The George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of engaging communities in the United States and around the world by cultivating leaders and advancing policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

The Bush Institute’s Education Reform effort works to increase student achievement through programs focused on accountability, school leadership, and middle school transformation. The Education Reform initiative advocates holding schools accountable for teaching all students, which includes collecting transparent, comparable, and reliable data to inform school improvement.

By William McKenzie and Sandy Kress. Designed and developed by Andrew Kaufmann. Video production by Scott Robertson. Charts built using Highcharts JS charting engine.

Signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

President Lyndon Baines Johnson delivers remarks at the signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, April 11, 1965 in Johnson City, Texas.

A Superintendent's View

Mike Miles, Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, discusses how accountability can help educators in their mission of improving students' proficiency.

President George W. Bush, April 10, 2014

President George W. Bush at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library, April 10, 2014.

How Accountability Helps Educators

David Chard, Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU and Chris Garcia, Teaching Trust and Former Principal, Uplift Peak Preparatory discuss school accountability.


In 2004, a proposal from 156 national organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, released a joint organizational statement on No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The statement condemned NCLB based on its perceived overemphasis on standardized testing, narrowing of curriculum instruction, and use of sanctions that they said did not improve schools. These organizations proposed significant reforms to NCLB based on progress measurement, assessments, building capacity, sanctions, and fully funding Title I to ensure that all students were equally served. ⎝]

In 2010, President Barack Obama presented the Blueprint for Reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to Congress. One significant provision of the proposed law rewarded school districts with high poverty rates that showed improvement. It also provided for the identification of and intervention in districts that failed to meet these goals. Additionally, the Blueprint required states and districts to create methods of measuring teacher and principal effectiveness in order to ensure that every classroom and school had high quality teachers and principals. This reform effort also acknowledged and responded to the criticism that NCLB could give states an incentive to lower standards in order to make them more attainable. ⎞] ⎟]

In December 2015, NCLB was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law reduced the authority of the U.S. Department of Education over state education systems by giving both states and school districts more power to determine their own testing standards, academic assessments, and intervention methods. ⎠] ⎡]

H.R.1 - No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 107th Congress (2001-2002)

Shown Here: Conference report filed in House (12/13/2001)

Title I: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged - Revises ESEA title I as Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged (currently Helping Disadvantaged Children Meet High Standards) and its part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies) (I-A).

(Sec. 101) Establishes I-A requirements for: (1) yearly testing and assessments of student performance (2) State standards for and assessments of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) (3) local educational agency (LEA) identification of schools for improvement and corrective actions (4) reporting to parents and the public on school performance and teacher quality (5) eligibility requirements for schoolwide programs and (6) increased qualifications of teachers and paraprofessionals. Provides alternatives for students at public schools failing to meet AYP standards within certain periods, including: (1) public school transfer options for all students at such schools and (2) supplementary educational services for low-income children who remain at such schools, with such services allowed to be provided by various entities (which may be public or private, nonprofit or for-profit, and may include religious institution-based ones, provided all content and instruction under such services are secular, neutral, and nonideological).

Reauthorizes and revises other requirements under the I-A-1 basic program for: (1) State and LEA plans (2) eligible school attendance areas (3) schoolwide programs (4) targeted assistance schools (5) State reservation of funds for school support, improvement, and recognition (6) parental involvement (7) participation of children enrolled in private schools, and (8) certain fiscal and coordination requirements.

Revises allocations (I-A-2) to States, outlying areas, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as under LEA Basic, Concentration, Targeted, and Education Finance Incentive Grants programs. Sets forth accountability requirements for State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools to ensure that their students meet such standards.

Requires each State to define AYP in a specified manner, which includes separate measurable annual objectives for continuous and substantial improvement for the achievement of all public elementary school and secondary school students in the State, and for the achievement of specific groups: (1) economically disadvantaged students (2) students from major racial and ethnic groups (3) students with disabilities and (4) students with limited English proficiency.

Requires States, by the 2005-2006 school year, to conduct annual academic standards-based assessments in mathematics and reading or language arts in grades 3 through 8. Requires such assessments in science at three grade levels by the 2007-2008 school year. Provides for grants to States to develop such assessments.

Requires distribution to parents and communities of State and LEA report cards on the academic quality of all schools, including the qualifications of teachers and teachers' aides. Includes among required information in State report cards: (1) comparisons between the actual achievement levels of the specified groups of students and the State's annual measurable objectives for such groups and (2) professional qualifications of teachers in the State, the percentage of such teachers teaching with emergency or provisional credentials, and the percentage of classes in the State not taught by highly qualified teachers, in the aggregate and disaggregated by high-poverty compared to low-poverty schools.

Establishes requirements for academic assessment and for LEA and school improvement. Requires LEAs receiving I-A funds to identify for school improvement any elementary school or secondary school served under I-A that fails, for two consecutive years, to make AYP as defined in the State's plan. Makes such requirement inapplicable to a school if almost every student in each of specified groups enrolled in such school is meeting or exceeding the State's proficient level of academic achievement. Allows LEAs, for schools that are conducting targeted assistance programs, to opt to review the progress of only the students in the school who are served, or are eligible for services, under I-A.

Requires an LEA to provide all students enrolled in a school identified for improvement with the option to transfer to another public (including charter) school served by the LEA and not identified for improvement, unless such an option is prohibited by State law. (Requires, to the extent practicable, cooperative agreements with other LEAs in the area for such transfers if all the LEA's public schools are identified for school improvement, corrective action or restructuring.) Requires priority in providing such option to be given to the lowest achieving children from low-income families. Requires LEAs to pay for transportation for students who exercise such option. Requires LEAs to permit children who remain at the school to which they transferred until they have completed the highest grade in that school but terminates an LEA's obligation to provide for transportation at the end of a school year, if the LEA determines that the former school is no longer identified for improvement or subject to corrective action or restructuring. Requires LEAs to use certain amounts for paying for such transportation (and for providing supplemental educational services for eligible low-income children at schools that fail to make AYP one year after being identified for improvement).

Requires an LEA, before identifying a school for improvement (or for failure to make AYP after identification for corrective action, or for restructuring due to failure after corrective action), give the school an opportunity to review school-level data and present evidence. Requires each school identified for improvement, after such review is resolved, to develop or revise a two-year school plan in consultation with parents, school staff, the LEA, and outside experts. Requires such plans to include a mentoring program for teachers. Requires LEAs to provide specified types of technical assistance to schools identified for improvement.

Requires an LEA, for any school served under I-A that fails to make AYP by the end of the first full school year after identification for improvement, to: (1) continue to provide technical assistance to the school and the public school transfer option to all the school's students and (2) make tutoring and other supplemental educational services available to eligible low-income children. Allows such supplemental educational services to be provided by an LEA, nonprofit entity, or for-profit entity that: (1) has a demonstrated record of effectiveness in increasing student academic achievement (2) can provide such services consistent with the LEA's instructional program and the academic standards described in the State's plan and (3) is financially sound. Requires such providers to agree to various criteria, including all content and instruction provided through such services are secular, neutral, and nonideological.

Requires LEAs to promptly notify parents of students in schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

Requires LEAs to implement systems of corrective actions for schools identified for improvement. Requires LEAs, by the end of the second full school year after such identification, to: (1) continue to provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the LEA (2) continue to provide specified types of technical assistance while instituting any corrective action (3) continue to make supplemental educational services available to children who remain in the school and (4) identify the school for corrective action. Requires the LEA, in the case of a school identified for corrective action, to do at least one of the following: (1) replace the school staff who are relevant to the failure to make AYP (2) institute and fully implement a new curriculum, including providing appropriate professional development for all relevant staff, that is based on scientifically based research and offers substantial promise of improving educational achievement for low-achieving students and enabling the school to make AYP (3) significantly decrease management authority at the school level (4) appoint an outside expert to advise the school on its progress toward making AYP, based on its school plan (5) extend the school's school year or school day or (6) restructure the school's internal organizational structure.

Allows the LEA to delay for not more than one year implementation of requirements relating to failure to make AYP after identification, corrective action, or restructuring, if: (1) a school makes AYP for one year or (2) a school's failure to make AYP is due to exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances, such as a natural disaster or a precipitous and unforeseen decline in the financial resources of the LEA or school.

Requires LEAs to publish and disseminate information regarding any corrective action at a school to the public and to students' parents.

Sets forth restructuring requirements for schools that continue to fail to make AYP after a full year of corrective action. Requires LEAS to: (1) continue to provide public school transfer options to all students enrolled there, as well as supplemental educational services for eligible children who remain in the school and (2) plan and implement a major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement that makes fundamental reforms and has substantial promise of enabling the school to make AYP. Includes among such restructuring arrangements for a school: (1) reopening as a public charter school (2) replacing all or most of the staff (which may include the principal) relevant to the AYP failure (3) making a contract for operation of the public school by a public or private entity with a demonstrated record of effectiveness or (4) SEA operation of the school. Directs the Secretary to provide technical assistance for such restructuring to certain small, rural LEAs that request it. Requires an LEA to promptly notify teachers and parents of students at a school to be restructured, and provide them adequate opportunity to comment on any such action and participate in developing any such plan.

Prohibits an LEA from continuing to subject a school to requirements of school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or to identify the school for school improvement for the succeeding school year, if the school makes AYP for two consecutive school years.

Requires SEAs to provide: (1) technical assistance for school assessment and improvement (2) annual review of LEA compliance with school assessment and improvement requirements and (3) notice to the Secretary of schools or LEAs identified for improvement.

Authorizes States to make certain rewards to LEAs that have exceeded AYP for two consecutive years.

Requires States to identify for improvement LEAs that have failed to make AYP for two consecutive years. Requires such LEAs to make improvement plans. Directs each State to: (1) provide technical or other assistance to identified LEAs to develop and implement their plans and work with schools needing improvement and (2) implement a system of corrective action for such LEAs. Requires States, if an LEA fails to make AYP after two school years after its identification, to continue technical assistance and to take at least one of the following corrective actions: (1) deferring programmatic funds or reducing administrative funds (2) instituting and fully implementing a new curriculum that is based on State and local academic content and achievement standards, including providing appropriate professional development based on scientifically based research for all relevant staff, that offers substantial promise of improving educational achievement for low-achieving students (3) replacing LEA personnel relevant to AYP failure (4) removing particular schools from LEA jurisdiction, establishing alternative arrangements for such schools' public governance and supervision and (5) appointing a receiver or trustee to administer LEA affairs in place of the superintendent and school board.

Revises requirements for statewide systems school support, improvement, and recognition.

Revises and renames I-B as Student Reading Skills Improvement Grants to: (1) establish programs for Reading First and Early Reading First initiatives, under new subparts 1 and 2 (2) revise and reauthorize the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs, under subpart 3 and (3) establish a subpart 4 program for Improving Literacy through School Libraries.

Establishes, under I-B-1, the Reading First program to provide: (1) increased funding for improving classroom reading instruction (2) assistance to SEAs and LEAs to establish scientific research-based reading programs for all children in kindergarten through grade three and (3) professional development for teachers to identify children at-risk for reading failure and give effective early instruction to overcome specific barriers to reading proficiency. Allocates 80 percent of program funds to States based on poverty rates. Reserves 20 percent of program funds for two-year discretionary performance-based grants to States that reduce the number of children who cannot read. Allows States to use up to15 percent of the funds for professional development. Requires States to distribute at least 80 percent of funds to LEAs on a competitive basis with priority for high poverty areas in which there is a high percentage of students in grades kindergarten through three reading below grade level. Requires funds to be used for diagnostic assessments and instructional materials that include the essential components of reading instruction.

Establishes, under I-B-2, the Early Reading First program of competitive grants for supporting enhanced reading readiness for children ages three through five in high poverty areas where there are high numbers of students who are not reading at grade level. Provides for development of verbal skills, phonemic awareness, pre-reading development, and assistance for professional development for teachers in child care centers or Head Start centers in instructional activities that would prepare children for formal reading instruction in kindergarten and grade one.

Revises and reauthorizes, under I-B-3, the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs.

Sets forth the I-B-4 Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program, to provide students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials, well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media centers, and well-trained, professionally certified school library media specialists. Requires formula grants to SEAs if appropriations reach a specified level or, otherwise, competitive grants to eligible LEAs .

Revises and reauthorizes I-C (Education of Migratory Children). Revises eligibility requirements for receiving funds, and provides States with increased flexibility in use of funds. Directs the Secretary to assist States in developing effective methods for the transfer of student records and for determining minimum data elements to be transferred.

Revises, renames, and reauthorizes I-D (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk). Requires States to set aside 15 percent (currently ten percent) of subpart 1 State Agency Programs funds for transition of youth in State correctional facilities back to their local schools. Includes among required uses of subpart 2 Local Agency Programs funds the operation of programs in local schools for children and youth returning from local correctional facilities, and allows such programs to serve other at-risk children and youth.

Establishes, as I-E, a National Assessment of Title I. Directs the Secretary to conduct a national assessment of the impact of the policies enacted into law under ESEA title I on States, LEAs, schools, and students. Revises and reauthorizes provisions for: (1) evaluations (2) demonstrations of innovative practices and (3) assessment evaluation.

Reauthorizes the Close Up Fellowship Program, administered by the Close Up Foundation, which provides financial aid to enable low-income middle school and secondary school students, their teachers, older Americans, recent immigrants, and children of migrant parents to come to Washington, D.C. to study the operations of the three branches of government.

Establishes a I-F program for Comprehensive School Reform. Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to States to make subgrants to LEAs to provide incentives for schools to develop comprehensive reforms so that all children can meet challenging State content and academic achievement standards. Requires such reforms to be based on scientifically-based research and effective practices, and to emphasize basic academics and parental involvement.

Access to High Standards Act - Establishes, as I-G, Advanced Placement (AP) Programs of assistance to increase the access of low-income students to AP high school courses and AP tests to earn advanced placement and credits at institutions of higher education.

Dropout Prevention Act - Establishes, as I-H, School Dropout Prevention provisions, including: (1) a Coordinated National Strategy (subpart 1) and (2) a National School Dropout Prevention Initiative (subpart 2).

Revises and reauthorizes part I, general provisions of title I, including negotiated Federal rulemaking, State rulemaking, a State committee of practitioners to advise the State in carrying out its responsibilities under title I, LEA spending audits, and State reports on dropout data.

Provides that nothing in title I authorizes Federal mandates with regard to a State's, LEA's, or school's: (1) specific instructional content, academic achievement standards and assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction or (2) equalized spending per pupil.

Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals - Revises ESEA title II, as Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals, to replace and consolidate the current Eisenhower Professional Development and Class-Size Reduction programs by establishing a part A Teacher Quality and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund (II-A) as a State formula grant program (subpart 1), with subgrants to LEAs (subpart 2) and to eligible partnerships (subpart 3), to support various similar and additional activities to improve elementary and secondary school teaching. Allows States and LEAs additional flexibility in the use of II-A funds, in exchange for their demonstrating that student achievement is increasing. Sets forth I-A-4 provisions for accountability and technical assistance. Authorizes the following I-A-5 national activities: (1) a national teacher recruitment campaign, including a clearinghouse (2) national principal and assistant principal recruitment program grants to high-need LEAs, or consortia of such LEAs, or partnerships of such LEAs with nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions (3) grants to eligible entities for advanced certification or credentialing activities (4) a grant to the University of Northern Colorado to provide assistance to other higher education institutions in training special education teachers (5) early childhood educator professional development grants to eligible partnerships to improve knowledge and skills of early childhood educators who work in communities that have high concentrations of children living in poverty and (6) a National Panel on Teacher Mobility to study and report on strategies for increasing mobility and employment opportunities for highly qualified teachers, especially for States with teacher shortages and States with school districts or school that are difficult to staff.

(Sec. 201) Establishes, as II-B, a Mathematics and Science Partnerships program of grants to: (1) SEAs or (2) if appropriations do not reach a specified level, eligible partnerships of SEAs, higher education mathematics, engineering, or science departments, high-need LEAs, and specified optional entities.

Sets forth II-C, Innovation for Teacher Quality. Revises and reauthorizes, under subpart 1 Transitions to Teaching, requirements for the following programs: (1) the Troops-to-Teachers program for recruiting military retirees into teaching and for innovative preretirement teacher certification programs for members of the Armed Forces and (2) the Transition to Teaching program for professionals seeking to change careers.

Revises and reauthorizes the National Writing Project under II-C-2 (currently under title X part K).

Education for Democracy Act - Revises and reauthorizes Civic Education programs under II-C-3 (currently under title X, part F). Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to or contracts with: (1) the Center for Civic Education to carry out civic education activities under the We the People. The Citizen and the Constitution program and The Project Citizen program, and under Cooperative Educational Exchange (CEE) programs and (2) the National Council on Economic Education to carry out economic education activities under CEE programs. Makes eligible for CEE programs Central or Eastern European countries, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the independent states of the former Soviet Union, the Republic of Ireland, the province of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, and any developing country with a democratic form of government (as determined by the Secretary with the concurrence of the Secretary of State).

Establishes, as II-C-4, a program for Teaching of Traditional American History. Authorizes the Secretary to make competitive grants to LEAs in partnership with higher education institutions, nonprofit history or humanities organizations, or libraries or museums.

Paul Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001 - Sets forth, as II-C-5, Teacher Liability Protection. Preempts State law, except where it provides additional protection of teachers from liability. Makes such provisions inapplicable to any civil action in State court against a teacher in which all parties are citizens of the State if such State enacts a statute electing that such provisions not apply. Provides that no teacher in a school shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission on behalf of the school if the teacher was acting within the scope of employment or responsibilities relating to providing educational services, subject to specified requirements and exceptions. Limits punitive damages and liability for non-economic loss.

Enhancing Education Through Technology Act of 2001 - Sets forth, as II-D, Enhancing Education Through Technology, provisions which revise and reauthorize some programs under the current title III (Education for Technology).

Consolidates such program activities for telecommunications and technology access into a formula grant program for State and local technology programs under II-D-1 (State and Local Technology Grants). Includes among authorized State and local activities enabling teachers to use the Internet to retrieve learning resources and to communicate with other teachers, parents, principals, and administrators.

Authorizes certain national activities and a national education technology plan under II-D-2, National Technology Activities.

Sets forth, under II-D-3, Ready-to-Learn Television provisions which revise and reauthorize programs under current III-C.

Prohibits use of II-D funds by certain elementary or secondary schools to purchase computers used to access the Internet or pay direct costs of Internet access, unless such schools have Internet safety policies that include operation of technology protection measures that prevent access to visual depictions that are obscene, or child pornography, or harmful to minors.

(Sec. 202) Provides for continuation of prior awards of: (1) funds under the Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2001 for new teacher recruitment initiatives and (2) grants or contracts under the National Writing Project.

Title III: Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students - Revises ESEA title III as Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students (current title VII is Bilingual Education, Language Enhancement, and Language Acquisition Programs). (Current title III Technology for Education programs are eliminated, but some similar activities are consolidated under the new II-D, and the Star Schools program is reauthorized under V-D-7.)

(Sec. 301) Consolidates and revises current Bilingual Education Act (BEA) programs (III-A) and the Emergency Immigrant Education Program (III-B-4) into a program of formula grants to States for education of limited English proficient (LEP) and immigrant children, when appropriations reach a specified level for such III-A to be in effect (otherwise, III-B is in effect). (Transfers the Foreign Language Assistance Program to title V.)

English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act - Sets forth, as title III part A, an Education of Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Children Act (III-A).

Bases III-A grant distribution to States on enrollment levels of limited English proficient (LEP) and immigrant students. Bases within-State distribution on enrollment of LEP students. Allows State reservation of a portion of such funds for grants to LEAs with large influxes of recent immigrant students. Requires local use of 95 percent of III-A funds. Reduces administrative funds if a State fails to have a majority of LEP children become English language proficient.

Requires students who have been in U.S. schools for at least three years to be tested for reading in English. Requires LEAs to obtain informed parental consent prior to placing children in an instructional program that is not taught primarily in English. Allows parents to: (1) choose among instructional programs if more than one type of program is offered and (2) immediately remove their child from a program for LEP children.

Sets forth certain language program exceptions for programs that serve Native American and Native Pacific Island children and children in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Improving Language Instruction Educational Programs for Academic Achievement Act - Sets forth, as III-B (when appropriations levels are not high enough for III-A to be in effect), provisions for Improving Language Instruction Educational Programs.

Sets forth III-B-1, Program Development and Enhancement, with grants to LEAs, higher education institutions, and community-based organizations for activities for program enhancement and for comprehensive school and systemwide improvement.

Sets forth III-B-2, Research, Evaluation, and Dissemination. Directs the Secretary to conduct such activities through the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in coordination with the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to: (1) SEAs to make awards to recognize LEA and other public and nonprofit entity programs demonstrating significant progress in assisting LEP students to learn English and meet academic standards and (3) for instructional materials development in Native American (including Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders, and outlying area) languages and other low-incidence languages in the United States for which such materials are not readily available.

Sets forth III-B-3, Professional Development, to authorize the Secretary to award grants to SEAs, LEAs, higher education institutions, or consortia of such entities, for professional development programs and activities to improve instruction and services for LEP children.

Reauthorizes and revises, under III-B-4, the Emergency Immigrant Education Program. (Provides for funds for such program as part of III-A formula grants or separately under III-B, depending on whether A or B is in effect.)

Sets forth III-C general provisions, including requirements for parental notification. Directs the Secretary to establish a National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs, to be administered as an adjunct clearinghouse of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Clearinghouses system supported by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Title IV: 21st Century Schools - Revises and renames ESEA title IV as 21st Century Schools (currently Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities).

Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act - Sets forth title IV, part A, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities. Reauthorizes and revises programs of drug and violence prevention in elementary and secondary schools (currently under IV, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1994).

Sets forth IV-A-1, State Grants. Revises certain fund allocation formulas to give priority to schools with high proportions of low-income students. Requires drug and violence prevention programs to be consistent with certain principles of effectiveness. Requires States to establish policies allowing transfer to a safe public school within their LEA to students who attend persistently dangerous schools or who are victims of violent crimes in school or on school grounds. Allows States to carry out programs through grants and contracts with charitable, religious, and other private organizations, in addition to LEAs. Provides that certain limitations on LEA program expenditures under IV-A do not apply to the hiring and training of school resource officers.

Sets forth, under IV-A-2, National Programs, revising and reauthorizing provisions for: (1) Federal activities (2) impact evaluation and (3) hate crime prevention grants to LEAs and community-based organizations to assist localities most directly affected by hate crimes.

Establishes the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Advisory Committee.

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to: (1) LEAs, for hiring drug prevention and school safety program coordinators, through a National Coordinator Program (2) States, for programs requiring community service by students who are expelled or suspended from school (3) LEAs, for programs to reduce alcohol abuse in secondary schools and (4) LEAs, nonprofit community organizations, or partnerships of these entities, for mentoring programs and activities for children with the greatest need.

Provides for establishment of a School Technology and Resource Center. Authorizes the Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Energy to enter into an agreement to establish such Center at the Sandia National Laboratories, in partnership with the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-Southwest and the National Center for Rural Law Enforcement in Little Rock, Arkansas. Directs the Attorney general to administer such Center.

Authorizes the Secretary and the Attorney General to establish a National Center for School and Youth Safety, to carry out emergency response, anonymous student hotline, consultation, information, and outreach.

Gun-Free Schools Act - Sets forth, under IV-A-3, Gun Possession, certain gun-free school requirements (currently under IX-F, the Gun-Free Schools Act), including requiring State laws to provide a minimum one-year expulsion of any student bringing a firearm to school or possessing one there (allowing LEA chief administrative officers to make case-by-case modifications).

Sets forth, as title IV part B, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, provisions which reauthorize and revise before-and-after-school programs for youth (currently under X-I, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Act). Allots funds through a formula to the States based on school-age population and on title I participation. Requires States to use such funds to provide competitive grants to LEAs, community-based organizations, and other private and public organizations to administer such programs. Requires States, if they opt to require local matching funds for such grants, to allow in-kind contributions.

Pro-Children Act of 2001 - Sets forth, as title IV part C, Environmental Tobacco Smoke, prohibitions for schools (provisions similar to those for a tobacco smoke-free environment for schools under part C of title X of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, which is repealed under this Act). Reauthorizes prohibitions against smoking within any indoor facility used for routine or regular provision of children's services (up to age 18), including health, day care, early development, education, or library services. Sets forth procedures for civil penalties and administrative compliance orders to be enforced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Title V: Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs - Sets forth a new ESEA title V, Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs. Includes and revises, under this new title V, Magnet School Assistance and Public Charter Schools (current parts A and B under current title V, Promoting Equity), as well as certain parts of Innovative Education Program Strategies (current VI), the Foreign Language Assistance Program (current VII-B), and Programs of National Significance (current title X).

(Sec. 501) Revises and reauthorizes as V-A Innovative Programs: (1) subpart 1 State and Local Innovative Programs (current VI-A) (2) subpart 2 State Programs (current VI-B) and (3) subpart 3 Local Innovative Education Programs (current VI-C).

Revises formulas relating to distribution of innovative program funds to LEAs (under V-A-1). Includes among authorized State uses of program funds support for arrangements that provide for independent analysis to measure and report on school district achievement. Adds to authorized local uses of program funds activities involving: (1) professional development and hiring of teachers (2) promotion of consumer, economic, and personal finance education (3) expanded and improved school-based mental health services (4) community service programs using qualified school personnel to train youths to strengthen their communities through nonviolence, responsibility, compassion, respect, and moral courage (5) improvement of civics and government education (6) alternative educational programs for students who have been expelled or suspended (7) hiring and support of school nurses (8) prekindergarten programs for children ages three through five (9) academic intervention programs to support academic enrichment and counseling for at-risk students during the school day, operated jointed with community-based organizations (10) programs for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in schools and (11) programs to establish smaller learning communities. Reauthorizes other innovative activities, including those to promote, implement, or expand public school choice.

Revises provisions for Public Charter Schools (as V-B currently X-C). Reauthorizes: (1) grants for charter school programs (V-B-1) and (2) credit enhancement initiatives to assist charter school facility acquisition, construction, and renovation (V-B-2). Establishes a program of competitive grants to eligible entities to establish or expand voluntary public school choice programs.

Reauthorizes the Magnet Schools Assistance program (as V-C currently under V-A).

Sets forth, under title V part D (Fund for the Improvement of Education), various programs, including such Fund, which are currently under title X (Programs of National Significance) and other ESEA titles.

Revises provisions for such Fund (current X-A) under V-D-1, redesignating some of the Fund's programs under separate subparts. Authorizes certain Fund programs and activities. Directs the Secretary to carry out studies of national significance regarding: (1) unhealthy public school buildings (2) the effects of children's exposure to violent entertainment and (3) sexual abuse in schools.

Sets forth, as V-D-2, Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Programs, to reauthorize, revise, and expand the elementary school counseling demonstration program (under current X-A) to include secondary school counseling programs.

Sets forth, as V-D-3, a Partnerships in Character Education program to revise, reauthorize, and expand a pilot project currently under X-A. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities in partnerships to design and implement State and local character education programs incorporating the elements of caring, civic virtue and citizenship, justice and fairness, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, and giving, as well as any other elements deemed appropriate by the members of the eligible entity, and any additional elements defined after consultation with the schools and communities served.

Reauthorizes, as Smaller Learning Communities (V-D-4), a program of grants to LEAs for certain activities relating to creation of smaller learning communities (currently under X-A).

Reauthorizes the Reading Is Fundamental, Inexpensive Book Distribution Program for reading motivation (V-D-5) (current X-E).

Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 2001 - Reauthorizes and revises Gifted and Talented Children programs (as V-D-6 currently under title X, part B).

Star Schools Act - Reauthorizes the Star Schools Program (as V-D-7 current III-B).

Sets forth, as V-D-8, a Ready to Teach program of grants for digital educational programming and other related activities to improve teachers skills and knowledge of core curriculum subjects.

Foreign Language Assistance Act of 2001 - Revises and reauthorizes the program of Foreign Language Assistance (V-D-9) (current VII-B), including: (1) grants to SEAs and LEAs for elementary and secondary school foreign language programs and (2) incentive payments to elementary schools that provide students a program leading to communicative competency in a foreign language.

Carol M. White Physical Education Program - Sets forth, as V-D-10, Physical Education, to revise provisions similar to the current Physical Education for Progress program (current X-L).

Sets forth, as V-D-11, provisions for grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for Community Technology Centers.

Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Education Through Cultural and Historical Organizations Act - Sets forth, as V-D-12, provisions for grants and contracts for Educational, Cultural, Apprenticeship, and Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Whaling and Trading Partners in Massachusetts.

Excellence in Economic Education Act of 2001 - Establishes, as V-D-13, an Excellence in Economic Education program authorizing the Secretary to award a competitive grant to a national nonprofit educational organization that has as its primary purpose improving student understanding of personal finance and economics through classroom teaching.

Establishes, under V-D-14, Grants to Improve the Mental Health of Children: (1) a program of grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with SEAs, LEAs, and Indian tribes for the integration of schools and mental health systems and (2) a program of Foundations for Learning Grants to LEAs, local councils, community-based organizations, and other public and private nonprofit entities, for promotion of school readiness through early childhood emotional and social development.

Revises Arts Education programs (as V-D-15 currently under title X, part D) to provide for: (1) increased participation of local organizations (2) collaborative efforts by arts educators and State and local arts agencies and (3) consultation about grant awards by the Secretary with arts educators and organizations. Reauthorizes arts and education programs that ensure participation in mainstream settings for individuals with disabilities through the Kennedy Center, Very Special Arts (VSA), and other arrangements. Requires Federal arts education funds to be used only to supplement and not supplant non-federal arts activities. Eliminates the Cultural Partnerships for At-Risk Children and Youth program.

Establishes programs for: (1) Parental Assistance and Local Family Information Centers (V-D-16) (2) Combating Domestic Violence (V-D-17) (3) Healthy, High-Performance Schools (V-D-18) (4) Grants for Capital Expenses of Providing Equitable Services for Private School Students (V-D-19) and (5) Additional Assistance for Certain Local Educational Agencies Impacted by Federal Property Acquisition (V-D-20).

Women's Educational Equity Act of 2001 - Sets forth, as V-D-21, the Women's Educational Equity Act (current V-B).

Title VI: Flexibility and Accountability - Revises ESEA title VI as Flexibility and Accountability.

(Sec. 601) Sets forth VI-A, Improving Academic Achievement. Sets forth, as VI-A-1, Accountability provisions. Directs the Secretary to make: (1) grants to States for certain costs relating to developing or administering newly-required State assessments, standards, and related activities and (2) competitive grants to SEAs for enhanced assessment instruments. Provides funding for: (1) administration of State assessments under the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and (2) VI-A-1 grants to States and SEAs.

State and Local Transferability Act - Sets forth VI-A-2, Transferability of Funds. Authorizes State and LEA transfers of funds: (1) among specified ESEA formula grant programs (relating to teachers, technology, safe and drug-free schools, and innovative programs) and (2) from such programs to their allocations for ESEA title I, but does not allow transfer of title I funds to other programs. Allows States to transfer up to 50 percent of State activity funds among such programs, as well as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Allows LEAs to transfer up to 50 percent of funds among such programs, but limits this to 30 percent for LEAs failing to meet State AYP requirements and only for improvement activities to address such failure.

State and Local Flexibility Demonstration Act - Sets forth VI-A-3, State and Local Flexibility Demonstration, with: (1) a chapter A program of State flexibility authority agreements for up to seven eligible SEAs, for performance agreements with at least four and not more than ten eligible LEAs in each such State (at least half of which are high poverty LEAs) and (2) a chapter B program of local flexibility demonstration agreements for up to 80 eligible LEAs (up to three LEAs in each State which does not have a chapter A agreement). Provides for consolidation of funds from specified ESEA programs (under the State chapter A program, from I-A, Reading First, Even Start, teachers, technology, safe and drug-free schools, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and innovative programs and under the local chapter B program, from teachers, technology, safe and drug-free schools, and innovative programs) for use for any purpose authorized under any ESEA program, for a five-year period, with loss of such authority by any such State or LEA that fails to meet State AYP requirements.

Allows up to 80 LEAs to consolidate all their funds under specified ESEA programs relating to for any purpose authorized under any ESEA program. Grants such authority for a five-year period. Provides that any such State LEA will lose such authority if it fails to meet State AYP requirements for two consecutive years.

Sets forth, as VI-A-4, provisions for State Accountability for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Directs the Secretary to use an annual peer review process to determine whether each State that has a plan under I-A-1 and III-A-1 has: (1) made AYP for each of specified groups of students under title I and (2) met its annual measurable achievement objectives (annual objectives) under title III. Requires the Secretary to provide technical assistance to States that have failed to make AYP for two consecutive years. Authorizes such assistance for States that have failed to achieve annual objectives for two consecutive years. Directs the Secretary to report annually to specified congressional committees on States that have not made AYP or met annual objectives, and on such technical assistance.

Rural Education Achievement Program - Revises, reauthorizes, and transfers to VI-B ESEA requirements for a Rural Education Initiative, with State formula grants for: (1) subpart 1 Small, Rural School Achievement Program and (2) subpart 2 Rural and Low-Income School Program.

Sets forth part C general provisions with respect to title VI, including: (1) a prohibition against Federal mandates, direction, or control and (2) a rule of construction on equalized spending.

Amends the National Education Statistics Act of 1994 with respect to State assessments. Directs the Commissioner of Education Statistics to conduct biennial State NAEP assessments in reading and mathematics in grades 4 and 8. Authorizes the Commissioner to conduct State NAEP assessments: (1) in reading and mathematics in grade 12 and (2) in additional subject matter in grades 4, 8, and 12.

Title VII: Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education - Reauthorizes and revises ESEA requirements for Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education (currently under title IX parts A, B, and C) under this new title VII.

(Sec. 701) Revises and reauthorizes provisions relating to Indian Education, as VII-A. Allows certain LEAs to combine Indian Education Act funds with other Federal funds they receive for Indian students in order to carry out demonstration projects integrating services for such students.

Native Hawaiian Education Act - Revises and reauthorizes, as VII-B Native Hawaiian Education (the Native Hawaiian Education Act, current IX-B).

Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act - Revises and reauthorizes, as VII-C, Alaska Native Education (the Alaska Native Educational Equity Support and Assistance Act, current IX-C).

Title VIII: Impact Aid Program - Revises and reauthorizes the Impact Aid Program (continues as title VIII of ESEA).

(Sec. 801) Revises a hold-harmless formula for distributing impact aid payments for Federal acquisition of real property for fiscal years in which insufficient funds are appropriated.

(Sec. 802) Revises impact aid provisions for certain heavily impacted LEAs, under the program of payments for eligible federally connected children.

(Sec. 803) Revises impact aid requirements for construction through school facility emergency and modernization grants.

(Sec. 804) Revises requirements relating to State consideration of impact aid payments in providing State aid.

(Sec. 805) Extends the authorization of appropriations for impact aid.

Title IX: General Provisions - Revises ESEA General Provisions (title IX), including definitions, flexibility in the use of administrative and other funds, coordination of programs, consolidated plans and applications, waivers, uniform provisions, and evaluations.

(Sec. 901) Sets forth additional uniform provisions. Provides that nothing in ESEA shall be construed to affect: (1) home schools, whether or not one is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any home schooled student be required to participate in any assessment referenced in ESEA or (2) any private school that does not receive funds or services under ESEA, nor shall any student who attends such a school be required to participate in any assessment referenced in ESEA.

Requires specified privacy protections for any results from individual assessments referenced in ESEA which become part of the education records of a student.

Requires LEAs, as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, to certify that they have no policy that prevents or otherwise denies participation in constitutionally-protected prayer in public schools.

Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act - Prohibits any SEA, LEA, or public school that receives Department of Education funds from discriminating, in providing equal access to school premises or facilities that have been designated as open or limited public forums, against any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America or any other youth group listed as a patriotic society, on the basis of such group's membership or leadership criteria or oath of allegiance.

Prohibits use of ESEA funds for programs of contraceptive (currently, condom) distribution at schools.

Prohibits the Department of Education from using any of its funds to endorse, approve, or sanction any elementary or secondary school curriculum. Prohibits use of ESEA funds to require States, as a condition of ESEA assistance, to have Federal approval or certification of academic content or student achievement standards. Provides that nothing in ESEA shall be construed to mandate national school building standards for a State, LEA, or school.

Requires any secondary school that receives ESEA funds to permit regular U.S. Armed Services recruitment activities on school grounds, in a manner reasonably accessible to all its students.

Prohibits: (1) use of ESEA funds for federally-sponsored national testing, unless specifically authorized by law, with an exception for representative samples in certain international comparative assessments and (2) use of Federal funds or sanctions for mandatory national certification of teachers and paraprofessionals.

Provides that nothing in ESEA shall be construed to permit the development of a national database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or in data collection efforts under ESEA.

Requires States receiving ESEA funds to establish policies allowing transfer to a safe public school within their LEA for students who attend persistently dangerous schools or who are victims of violent crimes in school or on school grounds.

Title X: Repeals, Redesignations, And Amendments to Other Statutes - Part A: Repeals - Repeals provisions relating to the Advanced Placement: (1) fee payment program, under the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 and (2) incentive program, under the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. Repeals certain provisions relating to Ready to Learn Television, under the General Education Provisions Act (but reauthorizes such program under ESEA II-D-4).

(Sec. 1011) Repeals provisions under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act for: (1) the National Education Goals Panel and (2) an International Education Program.

Repeals the following ESEA provisions: (1) title X, Programs of National Significance (many of which are revised and reauthorized under the new title V, part D) (2) title XI, Coordinated Services (3) title XII, School Facilities Infrastructure Improvement, a program of grants for school construction and renovation (4) specified provisions relating to title XIII support and assistance programs to improve education (which are redesignated under another Act) and (5) title XIV (General Provisions, which are revised and redesignated as title IX).

Repeals the Troops-to-Teachers Program Act of 1999 (but sets forth a revised form of the Troops-to-Teachers Program under title II of this Act).

Part B: Redesignations - Redesignates and revises the following current parts of ESEA as new parts of the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination, and Improvement Act of 1994: (1) Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers (current title XIII part A as new part K) (2) National Diffusion Network (current XIII-B as new L) (3) Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia (current XIII-C as new M) and (4) technology-based technical assistance (current XIII-D as new N).

Part C: Homeless Education - McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2001 - Amends the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to revise and reauthorize requirements for education for homeless children and youth. Requires schools to: (1) immediately enroll homeless children and youth and (2) keep children in their school of origin whenever possible and appropriate. Requires public notice of the educational rights of homeless children and youth to be disseminated in school districts. Prohibits States receiving such program funds from segregating a homeless child, either in a separate school or in a separate program within a school, based on that student's status as homeless. Allows States flexibility in use of program funds for Statewide support and technical assistance activities. Increases the amount of program funds available to small States.

Part D: Native American Education Improvement - Native American Education Improvement Act of 2001 - Amends the Education Amendments of 1978 to revise provisions for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) programs. Requires BIA schools to be accredited within a specified period. Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to take certain corrective actions for BIA schools still unaccredited after such period.

(Sec. 1043) Amends the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988 to revise and reauthorize grant and school endowment programs.

(Sec. 1044) Authorizes the Ojibwa Indian School in Belcourt, North Dakota, to use funds under the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988 to make certain lease payments.

(Sec. 1045) Amends the Augustus F. Hawkins-Robert T. Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Amendments Act of 1988 to prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from disqualifying from continued receipt of BIA general assistance payment an otherwise eligible Indian because such individual is enrolled at least half-time and making satisfactory in a study or training program.

Part E: Higher Education Act of 1965 - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to establish a program for Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology as a new part B of title II of HEA. Provides for continuation of awards under a similar program currently under ESEA.

Part F: General Education Provisions Act - Amends the General Education Provisions Act with respect to student privacy, parental access to information, and administration of certain physical examinations to minors.

Part G: Miscellaneous Other Statutes - Amends Federal law relating to compensation for an Under Secretary of Education.

(Sec. 1072) Amends the Department of Education Organization Act to: (1) direct the Secretary to designate an office and appoint a coordinator of Department of Education activities as they relate to outlying areas and (2) rename the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs as the Office of Educational Services for Limited English Proficient Children.

(Sec. 1073) Amends the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 to revise references to specified ESEA and other program requirements that may be waived under such Act.

(Sec. 1074) Amends the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination, and Improvement Act of 1994 to provide for continuation of awards for certain multiyear grants and contracts.

(Sec. 1075) Amends the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to allow certain funds under such Act to be made available for background checks on individuals who are employed, or seek employment, with schools in any capacity, including as a child care provider, teacher, or another member of school personnel.

‘Let’s Not Weaken It’: An Exclusive Interview with George W. Bush on NCLB

No Child Left Behind turned 10 this week, and former President George W. Bush, who led the effort to enact the landmark federal education law, marked the anniversary with an exclusive interview with TIME education columnist Andrew J. Rotherham. Bush discussed the law and its legacy, criticized both parties for trying to walk away from its hard-nosed accountability efforts and called on President Obama to resist “the temptation to take the easy path.”

Mr. President, 10 years in, what’s your take on No Child Left Behind?
First of all, I am extremely proud of the effects of No Child Left Behind. For the first time, the federal government basically demanded results in return for money. It started by saying, We expect you to measure [student performance]. As a result, there has been a noticeable change in achievement, particularly among minority groups. And I’m proud of that accomplishment and proud of the fact we were able to work with people from both parties to get it done.

When I think back about No Child Left Behind, it’s one of the really positive things our Administration accomplished along with Congress. So on the 10th anniversary, it’s time to celebrate success, but it’s also a time to fight off those who would weaken standards or accountability. I don’t think you can solve a problem if you can’t diagnose it, and I don’t think it is fair for parents or students not to be informed of how their schools perform relative to other schools and how their children perform relative to other children. So I’m pleased with the progress and concerned about efforts from people in both political parties to weaken it.

What do you think is driving those efforts?
Some on the right think there is no role for the federal government [in education]. Some on the left are saying it’s unfair to teachers — basically, union issues. People don’t like to be held to account.

So when NCLB is finally re-authorized, what changes would you like to see?
Progress toward excellence. [Former Secretary of Education] Margaret Spellings recognized that in order to be able to accurately judge, you need to measure progress toward the absolute. But what I’m worried about is the pressure to have too many goals or measure the wrong thing.

What will it take to rebuild a consensus on accountability?
Well, I think it’s going to take presidential leadership. The President is going to have to be very firm in resisting the temptation to take the easy path. The President has to take the lead and say, Wait a minute, No Child Left Behind has worked. Let’s not weaken it. And he has to find leaders in both parties to be willing to step up and make the change. That’s why [Democrats] Ted Kennedy and George Miller were very effective. We didn’t agree on the funding formulas and certain issues, but we did agree on the basics. And that is, you cannot expect excellence unless you measure.

I understand that No Child Left Behind became a convenient punching bag for some during certain political seasons, but to push back requires leadership from the White House and the Congress.

In your view, how much of the criticism of the law is about the specifics, and how much is just partisan politics?
In some circles, punching No Child Left Behind is a way to basically say, I’m against Big Government. In fact, No Child Left Behind is a way to promote efficient government. In a lot of these debates, you don’t hear real detail or analysis about how to improve the law. In essence, it’s No Child Left Behind is big government. Well, No Child Left Behind basically says, If you’re going to fund [schools], like we’ve been doing for years, we in the federal government ought to demand accountability, which seems to me a very conservative principle. Yet some conservatives are saying No Child Left Behind is an improper role for federal government. In that case, it’s more philosophy than actual analysis of how No Child Left Behind works and its effectiveness.

People like [former school superintendents] Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, people who are willing to challenge the status quo, tell you that one thing that made it effective was the accountability. I know many people in the Republican Party are reformists, but I don’t see how you can justify reform until you can measure success or failure. Some of the biggest advocates for a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind without weakening the spirit of the law are those who actually sit on the front lines of education reform. The critics ought to listen to them.

Andrew J. Rotherham @arotherham

Rotherham is a co-founder and partner at the nonprofit Bellwether Education, a national non-profit organization which, among other activities, does paid consulting work for clients including school districts, charter schools, and educational organizations around the country. The views expressed are solely his own.

George Bush and No Child Left Behind: A Federalist Perspective

President George Bush came into office in 2001 after both a campaign and outcome that shook the nation. Following the controversial Presidential election results, George W. Bush promised the American people that he was the right person to do this challenging job, acting as the next President of the United States. He wholeheartedly believed that his fierce agenda and revamped outlook on conservatism would create benefits to all across the United States. Through his strong Republican ideals a stronger country would be the product. President Bush campaigned under the slogan &ldquoA uniter, not a divider&rdquo proclaiming that he would bring both Democrats and Republicans together on key policy issues. When he came into office he attempted to bring that same idea into practice within the White House.

In his first inaugural address on Saturday, January 20 th , 2001, President Bush presented his blueprint for his next four years in office. He stated &ldquoWhile many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth&rdquo. 1 He went on to elaborate that thought, commenting &ldquoI will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity&rdquo. 2 Through his pledge to reconstruct the American public education system, both George Bush&rsquos personal views and compassionate conservative ideals became apparent to Americans. In his bold address to his country President Bush announced his choices of policy that he would prioritize during his administration.

On September 11 th , 2001, the Bush Administration was hit with unexpected terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The immediate reaction of President Bush&rsquos administration involved expanding the President&rsquos power to keep our nation secure and free from further harm. George Bush got what he wished for, and for the beginning of his term, there was a united Congress who approved of these increases power in order to protect the country. In an ABCNews/Washington Post Poll, they found that in May of 2001, 55% of the American public approved of how the President was doing his job in office, while 40 % of the public disapproved. In comparison, directly after the attacks on September 11 th , President Bush&rsquos approval ratings soared to 90% approval with only 6% disapproving of his actions. This approval remained high, to over 80% approval until the spring of the following year. 3 4

President Bush laid out his domestic policy agenda before this attack and with this new power and support, he struck while the iron was hot. While handling foreign policy matters, new wars and American security at home, the President also had to continue improving his own domestic policies. Throughout his campaign the President preached about his compassionate conservative values. &ldquoBy his choice of campaign issues and themes, Bush offered himself as a different kind of Republican&rdquo. 5 Tactfully, the President appealed to a larger base by presenting himself not as an elite while male, but a man who could also commiserate with the masses and who understood their needs. The constituent support was there and Congress had willingness for negotiation in the forefront of their minds. The opportunity to get his first priority on his domestic agenda passed was now. Congress had rallied behind the President and was ready to stand united and prove America was still strong, both within the states and how the country presented itself as a united nation to the rest of the world.

Although choosing a &ldquocompassionate conservative&rdquo issue as his first victory, his strict Republic ideology nevertheless could not be stripped away. President Bush presented a new education package to his Congress, one that raised the bar, restructured failing public schools, and gave American parents and students choices in their education. &ldquoThe President&rsquos basic strategy is to put strong government in the service of conservative values. The central value for Bush is freedom&rdquo. 6 President Bush believed that the additions of accountability and personal responsibility would be the solution to the inherent and structural problems in the American public school system.

As Governor of Texas, President Bush triumphed in creating meaningful and tangible state education reform. The Texas model was the state version of the No Child Left Behind Act with standards and accountability the overarching themes. Seeing success in his own state, President Bush used his expertise on this subject to proclaim that this solution would work best by applying the same reform nationwide. At the end of the fall with his country and Congress on his side, President Bush audaciously moved forward with his new education policy, the No Child Left Behind Act. His personal commitment to this issue was apparent throughout the entire process, and also became a great example of how the President&rsquos conservative values would be woven throughout his domestic policies.

President George Bush had a fairly flawless execution when it came to federal education moving through the legislature. When examining Bush&rsquos leadership in the context of success in this domestic policy area, it is apparent that the stage was set for this accomplishment. Much of this success was not actually President Bush&rsquos doing, but he strategically used this &ldquopolitical time&rdquo by aggressively taking advantage of the situation. He utilized this political context, took his strong personality traits, and used his vision to get this through Congress and signed into law. In the book, The George W. Bush Legacy , Campbell looks at the opportunities handed to the President in the scope of the historical and political context of that time in history. The &ldquopolicy windows&rdquo and risks taken go hand in hand. George Bush saw this occasion to use this time in history to create progress, while not actually participating heavily in the political maneuvering within Congress. With that opportune timing, the modernization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 began.

Federal Education Policy: The ESEA Restructured

When Reagan came into office, his education priority was to cut back the responsibility of the federal government and give control to states and localities. Through his Omnibus Reconciliation Act (1981), President Reagan cut the amount of federal aid and also the amount of regulation of public schools. Reagan&rsquos policy focused on devolution and after implementation, cut federal aid to schools by $1 billion dollars. Reagan believed in one principle that the federal government did not need to work towards any specific education goals and emphasizing block grants to assist the states, while not controlling them.

Following Reagan, President George H.W. Bush came into office declaring that he was going to be the &ldquoEducation President&rdquo. Bush Sr., like Reagan, believed that the federal government could not solve the education problems through the country, but by creating strict and comprehensible goals, progress could be made. During the first two years of his presidency, no education legislation was enacted. During those years he began to meet with business leaders and conducted an Education Summit involving all the Governors of every state. This collaboration developed into principles that in turn became the national performance goals. After a few years and turnover in his administration, President George H.W. Bush presented America 2000. This plan was to create more than 500 schools across the country, all receiving direct federal aid. In addition, it included support for the local organizations and gave partial aid to private school vouchers.

While this legislation was discussed in both the House and Senate, with changes continually being made, it did not pass, even at the end of Bush&rsquos term. Alternatively, he was successful in creating the National Council on Education Standards and Testing in 1992. This was a bipartisan group which would learn how implementation of setting nationals standards would affect the states and local school districts. This Council issued a final report that acknowledged the need for national goals and assessments, but emphasized that these assessments and goals should not affect state curricula.

President Clinton came into office with the commitment of an increased role in education policy. After utilizing information and research from the previous administration, President Clinton developed legislation titled Goals 2000, which incorporated input from the bipartisan council with improvements from the experiences the States had with the previous reform. &ldquoIt was an unusual federal program because it did not target a particular group of students or subject areas&rdquo. 7 The Act encouraged reform across the board &ndash the States knew that the federal government was emphasizing standards and assessment to measure school standings.

The federal funds that the States served multiple purposes and States took advantage of that flexibility and originality. Notably, one of the largest recipients of this funding was Texas, where George W. Bush was Governor, receiving over 100 million dollars. This funding was discharged into creating state standards and assessments. This individuality handed to each state put the President in a difficult situation, and Bill Clinton proposed creating the National Education Standards and Assessment Council to ensure that all States exams and standards were of high quality, but because of Republican fear that it would increase federal control and state decisions, the legislation disintegrated.

At the same time of this passage, Clinton reauthorized the ESEA, renamed as Improving America&rsquos School Act. It received bipartisan support because the Act required all students, regardless of background, to meet the same standards. The legislation, which required equal treatment of all students, also required the same standards and accountability for all students. With the passage of this Act, IASA became the largest single federal funding source for elementary and secondary education. States received funding dependent on their acceptance to promising and altering their standards and testing. After the 1994 election the Republican controlled Congress set to eliminate many of the Goals 2000 initiatives and reduce the federal role in this area. Although Congress blocked new legislation in Clinton&rsquos second term, education appropriations rose by 15% during his last year in office, up to $6.5 billion dollars. Following President Clinton would be George Bush&rsquos opportunity to put his spin on it.

President Bush&rsquos Inner Circle: Education Policy Decision Making

Throughout his two terms in office, President George Bush behaved as though he was employed in a business setting within the White House. To his liking, he surrounded himself with advisors and cabinet members who shared the same views as him. This style involved a select group of consultants and carriers of information that suggested procedures and policy ideas to the President upon which he would swiftly process the information, and make a decision. George Bush was not looking to seek varying opinion in the White House, he wanted information that tailored to his own personal opinion, and that is exactly how the White House operated.

This CEO style included a bold agenda that was rigidly set, and the President would not veer off that course, no matter what new situation or information. The process involving his education policy was no different. The President delegated this policy area to a few advisors who shared his same viewpoints on controversial education topics.

Not surprisingly, Bush chose his top education group from people in his past that he could trust. Rod Paige, Bush&rsquos first Education Secretary, was superintendent of Houston&rsquos Independent School District Superintendent, the nation&rsquos seventh largest school district. He grew up in a segregated school district and saw the administration&rsquos NCLB Act as a practical and imperative solution to closing the achievement gap. Margaret Spellings, Bush&rsquos second Education Secretary was a friend of Karl Rove, who introduced her to George Bush during his campaign for Governor. She became his top aide in Austin and traveled to Washington as Chief of Domestic Policy.

While working as an educational aide she helped oversee accountability reforms that developed into the No Child Left Behind Act. It is important to note that because President Bush surrounded himself with a few advisors who had the same value system as him, their education vision and priorities throughout Bush&rsquos eight years changed very little. Instead of adjusting the implementation of education legislation, they stayed committed to the plan. This type of behavior while in office aided in the passage of the NCLB Act, but later became detrimental to Bush and his educational policy advisors. This inflexibility showed by the Administration was the source of the conflict between the Federal Government and the States.

In 2001, while the No Child Left Behind legislation was being developed, Rod Paige, Education Secretary at the time, John Boehner, one of Bush&rsquos key Republicans involved, Representative George Miller, and Senator Edward Kennedy who drafted the language and mechanisms of the bill. Like every other aspect of the Bush White House, Bush&rsquos commitment to stand by his decision extended to his interaction with these players. These officials became part of Bush&rsquos inner circle and helped the President pitch these ideas to the rest of Congress.

Getting Education Policy Passed

Bush&rsquos decision making style, while detrimental in later policy processes, complemented his first legislative victory. &ldquoOn many important issues, such as the No Child Left Behind bill, the decision process worked well&rdquo. 8 Congress and the public rallied with George Bush because he sold this policy in a very effective manner. President Bush&rsquos personality was superb for campaigning. He was enthusiastic, assertive, and extremely personable, all characteristics that were valuable in getting a strong coalition together to support this issue. He used his tactics in governing by campaigning to push this top priority through Congress. It fit his personality well, as he had to delegate work and broadly talk about the legislation aggressively and moved this legislation forward. &ldquoEven when he has taken stands, Bush typically has not taken a personal role in negotiating details of legislation until late in the consideration of a bill&rdquo. On his priority issues, he has tended to focus on a few essentials, cede ground when necessary to reach his ultimate objective, and rely on Republican leaders to keep the troops in line&rdquo. 9 This is a prominent example of how Bush operated within his administration, acting as the chief delegator, but never becoming involved in policy detail. This process involving the No Child Left Behind Act matched President Bush&rsquos style and it worked well in getting this priority through the Legislature.

The importance of President Bush&rsquos commitment to education change was not just personal, but was used, in part, to help shape Bush&rsquos legacy. The administration knew that they wanted a new expansive federal education policy to prove that the GOP was moving in a different direction. It would be the President&rsquos first deterrence from Republican standards it would become an action that would define his Presidency. Bush broke away from the GOP&rsquos opposition to a lively federal role in education policy and politics. George Bush stayed the course and turned away from previous conservative positions such as the 1994 Contract with America and the 1996 Republican Party platform which had promised to abolish the United States Department of Education. The focus on passage of this Act would be to get this group on board.

The Republican ideology had traditionally been unreceptive to expansion of government into education, claiming that an expansive federal policy would become an intrusion into the lives of American citizens. Even House Majority Leader John Boehner in the lead up to the election that, &ldquoit is clear that the current experiment of having the federal government heavily involved in education has failed,&rdquo and voted to abolish the Dept. of Education. The new &ldquocompassionate conservative&rdquo President would use this accomplishment to show America that Republicans could deliver on an issue that Democrats had championed in the past. It was a strategic move, changing America&rsquos outlook on Republicans while gaining respect politically for compromising with the opposition. It worked and bipartisanship on the bill came together.

With the help of a close group working within the White House, President Bush would see his ideas begin to develop. This focus on general principles, gut instinct, and loyalty were the aspects of the office that George Bush acted and reacted upon. He used his &ldquoDecider&rdquo power when his agenda was not going according to plan. &ldquoHe found success not by compromise but by working with Democrats who shared his goal to fashion a policy whose time had come. Bush&rsquos knowledge of education and his ebullient personality combined to make him an effective salesman for policies that elites had already by and large accepted&rdquo. 10 As previously mentioned, President Bush enjoyed the top-down approach, where he would be the puppeteer and watch from afar the progress that his close allies were achieving in Congress.

With the passage the Bush administration set out to close the inherent achievement gap in the American school system and push to create outstanding academic institutions for all students. The NCLB enactment became an imprint of the legacy of George W. Bush. That success was a combination of the right place at the right time in tandem with President Bush&rsquos personality commitment to education and need for results. With this passage, he proved to America that he was the correct person to the job, and lived up to what he set out in his campaign. The House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384-45) and United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91-8). President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.

The Continuing Issue of States Rights in Education Policy

One of the struggles since the birth of America has involved the concept of federalism. Our reasoning from breaking away from our mother country was to proclaim independence, for individuals to have choices to be the rulers of their own destinies. Explicitly stated in the United States Constitution, powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by the constitution of the United States are reserved to the states or the people. Federalism is a sacred concept in America and one that this country actively scrutinizes when there is doubt of its application.

Every State Constitution in America guarantees a citizens&rsquo right to education, while in the United States Constitution no language contains that promise at all. Although public education is predominantly an affair that states and localities are responsible for, the federal role in American schools has grown drastically since the Federal government thought it had obligations in a child&rsquos education. Now it is the ever-changing partnership that has become increasingly complex and conflicted in nature.

The United States, even in the early years of our developing society, had some type of schooling. Education had become the responsibility of the states and in the 19 th century, the public school system was developed. As the country grew, there was unanimous agreement that to have a bright future, all children must receive an education to become active citizens. Free public schooling for all children was the solution. Eventually, all states developed their own departments of education, school curricula, and methods to finance public education. It became the tradition for the power to lie in each individual state.

Funding for local education was based primarily on local property taxes. This strategy has historically been an area of controversy in the political arena. The federal government began to trickle into that state empowered policy area because they saw this deficit as an unfair system.

Federal commitment to improving the public school system increased in 1958 with the National Defense Education Act and with Lyndon B. Johnson&rsquos Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The purpose of this bill was to create equity in the education system. If the playing field was leveled and the Federal Government poured money into disadvantaged areas, the result would be success for all students. That was the plan in the latter half of the 20 th century, and this notion has grown into a huge overhaul of education in contemporary America. As George Bush reiterated again and again, he wanted to give a fair shot to every single child in America. When a community does not have the income to pour into their public school system, those students have a significant disadvantage in their education compared to more privileged towns, which would affect their entire course of life.

A Federalist Perspective on the NCLB Act

While President Bush and the White House had great success through the legislative process getting the No Child Left Behind bill pass, the difficulty appeared in how the administration would pick and choose the components within the legislation. &ldquoThe most important question was not whether the provisions were well-designed but whether they created a sense of urgency and spurred innovation&rdquo. 11 There could be different ways to refurbish the education system and it was through the Administration&rsquos pitches that the standards and accountability became the driving force.

Education, which tends to be a Democratic Party forte, was taken into the hands of a rigid Republican administration, who tried for numerous reasons to participate equally in this reform. The final piece of legislation was designed for accountability measures to be put into place, along with a heavy increase in the use of federal dollars, with state independence and flexibility becoming secondary priorities.

The No Child Left Behind Act was undoubtedly the most interventionist federal education policy in United States history, and a departure from conservative ideals against an invasive government. President Bush stuck to his Republican way of thinking on many other policy issues, but let this legislation come together within the Republican umbrella, with only some compromise. Personal choice, one of President Bush&rsquos republican pillars, was evident throughout the document. When schools were deemed &ldquoin need of improvement&rdquo, students within the school had a choice to change schools. Accountability and results, another conservative principle, was a key component of the Act, with standardized test scores examining adequate yearly progress in exchange for federal dollars or repercussions. All of these components led to the controversy involving the Act, that the States&rsquo requirements needed further resources.

&ldquoThe NCLB legislation was a complicated mix of federal mandates and state discretion: states are required to put standards and tests in place and create a system for dealing with failing schools, but they set the rigor of these themselves&rdquo. 12 On paper, the negotiations looked impressive, but implementing all the facets within this Act would be the integral part of this education overhaul. President Bush, as previously noted, was a leader who &ldquostayed the course&rdquo and, once committed to a specific solution, would not change his mind. This personality trait became very apparent while executing the NCLB Act. &ldquoGiven these cross-cutting currents, much would depend on the way in which the law was implemented by the Bush Department of Education and how the department handled states&rsquo requests for flexibility, extensions, and waivers&rdquo. 13 To President Bush, the idea was a simple one: states would comply with the federal mandates, make changes where necessary, and work hard to ensure that every child was receiving a quality education. Staying true to his CEO style as President, he thought his tough position on this legislation and perk of increased federal funds would suffice, and the states would respond positively to these requirements. States and school districts would get rewarded by this obedient behavior while educating America&rsquos students and closing the achievement gap.

The powerful new law presented by the administration was in line with Bush&rsquos ideals and after enacted, the President was ready to see his priorities put into action. He did not foresee his expansive education renovation to be as controversial as it became in the coming years.

&ldquoOne awkward question was how the Bush administration would respond to states that pushed back against the law&rsquos requirements in the name of federalism. The administration faced a thorny choice: acquiescing and accepting the efforts to undercut NCLB, or aggressively challenging states that threatened to forfeit dollars in order to opt out of the NBCL regime. In a decision that caused consternation among conservatives concerned about federal overreach and the integrity of federalism, the administration opted to use every tool at its disposal to keep states in line&rdquo. 14

This conflict between standards and resources to enact these new requirements caused the States pressure, and as tension grew, the States began to act. Feeling threatened and pushed around, the States began to speak out against the Federal Government.

In 2005, the states began flexing their muscles and went against the Federal Act. Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley defied the federal rule requiring most special education students to meet the same standards on the same test as students with no disabilities. This action made the former Governor Bush&rsquos state the first to overtly challenge the NCLB mandate. President Bush&rsquos Administration fined the state $444,000 for not complying with all the requirements. In addition, Utah&rsquos Governor Jon Huntsman signed a bill that ordered state officials to blatantly ignore the federal education law provision that conflict with Utah&rsquos education goals or that would use state money. In the summer of 2005, Virginia lawmakers commanded more flexibility on NCLB requirements. They submitted a &ldquosymbolic resolution&rdquo asking Congress to exempt Virginia from the Act. Many states acted, creating solidarity and a unity that told Congress that this new policy was not working for them.

Legal challenges brought forth by states allowed these entities to voice their concern and put a check on the executive and legislative power. In the United States District Court case of Connecticut v. Spellings, Connecticut, led by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, argued that the Secretary of Education's rejection of the State&rsquos existing testing plan was &ldquoarbitrary and capricious.&rdquo Under the law, to qualify for funding the State must submit a plan that laid out standards, challenges, and assessments, and follow through with that plan. The case derived as a result of Connecticut&rsquos proposal to assess special education students at instructional levels rather than grade levels. Within the Act itself, the Secretary of Education has the power to issue regulations to ensure compliance with the Act. The Secretary of Education struck down Connecticut&rsquos plan. The State claimed that the power and discretion of the Education Secretary's interpretation of the NCLB Act violated the Act's provision prohibiting "unfunded mandates." Connecticut simply stated that without the proper funding in place, the changes were not feasible. The case was dismissed but the conflict between the Administration and individual States did not end.

In 2008, the case of School District of the City of Pontiac v. Spellings came before the United State Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. It involved the National Education Association, school districts from several states, and ten NEA affiliate associations bringing suit over the mandates incurred by the No Child Left Behind Act. The groups argued that,

&ldquoBecause of the act&rsquos &ldquoUnfunded Mandates Provision&rdquo (UMA), at 20 U.S.C. § 7907(a) (2005), the court held that states did not have the clear notice of their liabilities under NCLB that is required by the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The provision reads: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school's curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the Act." 15

At the time, Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling stated that all States must comply with the NCLB requirements. The argument put forth by the plaintiffs was that the laid actual language of the NCLB Act does not require compliance beyond what the federal funds will pay. She continued to commit to her initial beliefs, stating that even if funding was not provided, it was the responsibility of the States to comply with all requirements.

Within the opinion of the Court, the plaintiffs wanted an explicit statement making a declaratory judgment &ldquothat school districts are not required to spend non-NCLB funds to comply with NCLB mandates&rdquo. In a press conference after the decision stating that the law was unclear on the liabilities states incur when they accept the NCLB funds, the NEA&rsquos Bob Chanin stated &ldquoYou&rsquove been saying for six years that this is the best thing since sliced bread for education. If you really believe it, you&rsquore going to have to put in another $70 billion. The only way you can compel states is if you give them the money to do it, you can&rsquot have it both ways&rdquo. 16 While all these cases were dismissed, the lawsuit will have implications for the comings years, raising question about funding for education and spending priorities for America. At the heart of the issue is the state versus federal power struggle. The States became fed up with the mandates that were required by the federal government but were not met with adequate funding. There was an inability of the States to get their unique problems heard to the Federal Government.

No Child Left Behind: The Future

One of the chief sculptors of the infamous Act, Representative George Miller, stated, &ldquoI would give [NCLB] an A in terms of the goals it has set&hellip in trying to develop a system to make sure that each and every child is proficient. I would give it an F for funding&hellip. And on implementation, I would give it a C.&rdquo 17 Two years after the execution of the federal expansion, 24% of American school fail to make adequate yearly progress, many of them regarded top notch in the states. There is one thing for certain, the testing and accountability President Bush required by this policy is now drilled into the American school system. The culture of testing and pressure and high standards shown through the use of standardized testing has changed the school system.

In addition, this issue that was supposed to bring both Democrats and Republicans together sparked major polarization within Congress. Before the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic candidates had a platform that tore the Act apart, creating pillars of new reform to come with a new president. With many parties agreeing the components of the law need to be altered, the question now is a political one. The new questions involve what will be kept and what will be thrown out the window. Bush&rsquos agenda of reforming education met his goal, but in the long run, this &ldquouniter&rdquo deeply divided the country due to this piece of legislation. President Obama&rsquos legislation acknowledges the needs for flexibility, while keeping that strong drive for improvement. If schools miss their target, they still get funding for that year. That administration understands that individual states are going to need different approaches in increasing school excellence.

Final Thoughts

By the summer of 2007, the GOP had rallied together to repeal this law, claiming that the goals of the Act were unrealistic and was an embarrassment to standard GOP principles. While the uproar continued to gain movement, the Bush administration chose to stay the course, and complete their mission of providing a quality education through the means of the No Child Left Behind Act. Over the coming years, what would follow would be numerous Supreme Court cases that argued the No Child Left Behind Act forced states to comply with unfunded federal mandates. States across America did not see these goals achievable under the lacking of funding and time sensitivity involved. States criticize the Act for being overly intrusive and an outlandish overtake of local and state control of education.

In the Fiscal Year of 2009, over $25 billion dollars has been allocated to use for the No Child Left Behind Act. It is interesting to note that while proclaiming &ldquocompassionate conservatism&rdquo in a few areas, while pushing education legislation through he neglected to other areas that hand in hand with other funding with services that are connected to a high quality life of an individual. While in office, President Bush cut taxes that helped the wealthy and created a heavy burden for the lower and middle class, and pumped funding into faith-based initiatives to delegate those services to private institutions. There is hypocrisy with that type of thinking, one that does not create a visionary administration, who thinks holistically about their executive power and actions.

&ldquoOver the last 50 years. A robust historical record will be a significant resource for those who shape federal policy, including NCLB and its successors, in a new context of international competition and strife, which is forcing the United States to take a fresh look at its "federal"-local, state, and national-approach to many functions, especially education.&rdquo 18 President George Bush had to look at education from a Presidential perspective and create a plan to combat the issue of educational funding and take a close look at how each individual school system and state would receive that funding. He placed his values at the conservative end of the spectrum increasing accountability and personal choice in his restricted ESEA. He could have made the Act more flexible after taking that initial approach, but he did not, he stayed the course. The Administration should have been done is been more open minded and less rigid in regards to own states needs and modes of operation. If he let the states administer their own educational policy and oversee it without an iron first, the States may have responded more positively to the reform.

In the end, &ldquoThe attitude many educators, politicians, and the general public have toward NCLB can be characterized in a single word: conflicted&rdquo. 19 George Bush came into office to put education as a focal point, did so, and in the end, he will be remembered for how he carried out that important and personal piece of legislation. The No Child Left Behind Act sought to aggressively restructure the public school system, and did so by changing the states interactions with the Federal Government. This policy solution did not work out in George Bush&rsquos favor because he forgot one key factor, the ideal of federalism in American political policy. If he had created and implemented a bill with this concept in mind, the outcome may have turned out differently for President Bush. In the aftermath, the new Obama Administration knew it was a key policy area that he could champion because he saw his predecessor take this unbending approach towards implementation of policy. This observance will only continue to make President Bush leave a terrible legacy in America and allow for President Obama&rsquos legacy to grow.

1.) Bush, George. First Inaugural Address. 20 January 2001. West Front, U.S. Capitol.

3.) Polling Report, Inc. 2010. ABC News/Washington Post Poll. &ldquoDo you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?" Jan. 13-16, 2009.

4.) Consequently, as the executive&rsquos power was expanding in areas of homeland security, Bush&rsquos plan to expand executive power in other domestic policy areas may have been overlooked.

5.) Jacobson, Gary. A Divider, Not a Uniter. San Diego, CA: Pearson Education. 2008. 50.

6.) Edwards, George. Governing By Campaigning. NY, NY: Pearson Education, Inc. 2008. 17.

8.) Heiss, Frederick and Patrick McGuinn.&ldquoGeorge W. Bush&rsquos Education Legacy: The Two Faces of No Child Left Behind&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009.

9.) Edwards, George. Governing By Campaigning . New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc. 2008. 181.

10.) Maranto, Robert, and Richard Redding.&rdquoBush&rsquos Brain (No, Not Karl Rove)&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009.

11.) Heiss, Frederick and Patrick McGuinn.&ldquoGeorge W. Bush&rsquos Education Legacy: The Two Faces of No Child Left Behind&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009. 159.

12.) Maranto, Robert, and Richard Redding.&rdquoBush&rsquos Brain (No, Not Karl Rove)&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009. 164.

13.) Heiss, Frederick and Patrick McGuinn.&ldquoGeorge W. Bush&rsquos Education Legacy: The Two Faces of No Child Left Behind&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009. 165.

15.) United States Court of Appeals Opinion For the Sixth Circuit. School District of the City of Pontiac v. Secretary of the United States Department of Education. January 7. 2008

16.) Ridgod, Joan. &ldquoNo Child Left Behind Act&rdquo. DCBar. April 2008.

17.) Heiss, Frederick and Patrick McGuinn.&ldquoGeorge W. Bush&rsquos Education Legacy: The Two Faces of No Child Left Behind&rdquo. In Judging Bush edited by Maranto, Lansford, and Johnson. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2009. 165.