The Bush administration set out to stamp the NCLB brand on everything it could, as my former colleague Misha Galley so helpfully pointed out in 2003. You hear the phrase from top officials all of the time. It’s been attached to the Blue Ribbon Schools program, among others. At one point, www.ed.gov looked more like a full page ad for NCLB than a portal to a government agency.
But perhaps they’ve gone too far. Whenever bad things happen, the NCLB brand is attached to them. The latest story case involves a teacher who had won recognition under the federal Star of Teaching program. When he was arrested and charged with forcing a student to perform a sex act, copy writers put NCLB in the headline because they know about the program and assume their readers do too. Then your brand is associated with a teacher who is accused of committing an indefensible act. Eventually, every problem in schools is traced back to NCLB. That’s inevitable when you brand a term to everything in American education.
It will be interesting to watch is what happens to the NCLB brand when the Bush administration is over. Rep. George Miller appears ready to abandon it in legislation. Will it live on as the acronym attached to stories about what’s wrong with schools?
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.