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Alternative Candidates Offer Chance to Vote Against NCLB

October 01, 2008 1 min read
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From guest blogger David Hoff:

If you’re determined to vote for a presidential candidate who opposes the No Child Left Behind Act, you have options.

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are saying that they would keep much of the law’s architecture of standards, testing, and accountability. (For more on that, see my story in this week’s issue of Education Week and FairTest’s overview of where the candidates stand on NCLB.)

But there are three candidates for president who oppose the law: Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader. All three want to repeal it.

Here’s a sampling of their views:

Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, says “federal policy needs to be transformed from one that uses punishments to control schools, to one that supports teachers and students; from one that relies primarily on standardized tests, to one that encourages high-quality assessments. Broader measures of student learning are needed that include reliance of classroom-based assessments along with testing.”

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate, writes: “Turning education over to the federal government, as through such legislation as the No Child Left Behind Act has not worked. Trying to fix failing schools with more money and regulations also has failed to do anything other than waste taxpayer money without results.” He proposes ending the federal government’s role in education and turning decisions back to state and local governments.

The Green Party, which has nominated Cynthia McKinney to be its candidate, writes in its draft platform that “the federal Act titled No Child Left Behind punishes where it should assist and hinders its own declared purpose. It should be repealed or greatly redesigned.” The federal government’s roles should be limited to ensuring students across states have a “level playing field,” the platform says.

McKinney, a former Democrat, and Barr, a former Republican, don’t mention relevant details from their experiences representing different Georgia districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. Back in 2001, both voted for NCLB twice, once when the House passed its bill and again when the House approved the House-Senate compromise sent to President Bush.

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