Federal Federal File

GOP Field Dips Into NCLB Issues

By Alyson Klein — May 22, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

There wasn’t a single question on the No Child Left Behind Act or federal education policy during the Republican presidential debate in Columbia, S.C., last week. But a number of the 10 candidates managed to inject the NCLB law into the discussion anyway.

The May 15 debate hinted at the division within the Republican Party over whether the law amounts to an unwarranted expansion of the federal role in education or brings greater accountability to K-12 schools.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he originally subscribed to one point of view, but then he shifted to the other.

“Once upon a time, I said I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education,” Mr. Romney said during the 90-minute debate at the University of South Carolina. “That was my position when I ran for Senate in 1994. That’s very popular with the [GOP] base.”

But during his stint in the Massachusetts statehouse, Mr. Romney said he witnessed “the impact the federal government can have holding down the interest of teachers’ unions and instead putting the interest of parents and teachers first.”

“I like testing in our schools,” he added. “I think it allows us to get better schools, better teachers.”

But some of the other GOP candidates criticized the NCLB law—and their rivals for supporting it when Congress passed it with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in 2001.

“I don’t think the Republican position ought to be more bureaucracy,” said Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who voted against the measure. “I mean, why did we double the size of the Department of Education?”

Although former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was largely silent about the law during the debate, he made it the subject of a campaign video, posted last month on YouTube, the popular site for Web video.

“The federal No Child Left Behind Act is often misunderstood and unfairly maligned as a total federal intrusion,” Mr. Huckabee says in the video. “As long as the states are allowed to develop their own benchmark exams to determine the manner in which they create standards, and are aware of the consequences of failure to adhere to them, there’s a value in having a national effort to at least set high standards.”

See Also

For more stories on this topic see our Federal news page.

A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week


School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Use Your 'Teacher Voice,' Jill Biden Urges in a Push for Political Activism
Voting in the midterms is a critical step educators can take to bolster democracy, the first lady and other labor leaders told teachers.
5 min read
First Lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Boston.
First lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Federal Federal Initiative Leverages COVID Aid to Expand After-School, Summer Learning
The Education Department's Engage Every Student effort includes partnerships with civic organizations and professional groups.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event on June 2, 2022, at the Department of Education in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event at the Department of Education in Washington in June. The department has announced a push for expanded access to after-school and summer learning programs.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Restraint and Seclusion, and Disability Rights: Ed. Department Has Work to Do, Audit Finds
The Government Accountability Office releases a checklist of how the U.S. Department of Education is performing on a list of priorities.
4 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. The Government Accountability Office has released recommended priorities for the Education Department that target special education rights.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Biden Administration Boosts Grants for Community Schools, Sharpens Funding Priorities
The Education Department will award $68 million through its Full-Service Community Schools program.
2 min read
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers in class at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa, on Jan. 20, 2022. Project Rooted has partnered with Dubuque Community Schools for a pilot program in which it provides monthly boxes containing local foods and a project to first-grade classrooms.
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa. The U.S. Department of Education is providing grants to high-quality community schools that provide wraparound services like the nutrition programs at Lincoln Elementary.
Jessica Reilly/Telegraph Herald via AP