Federal Opinion

From the Archives: Perspectives on ESEA

March 31, 2015 2 min read

The policy implications of the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and its most recent reauthorization, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, have been at the heart of an enduring public debate that has also taken place in Education Week’s Commentary pages over the years.

The debate intensified with the passage of NCLB, particularly around its impact on the federal role in schooling, education equity, and standardized testing. (This collection is part our of special anniversary series, “The ESEA at 50".)

Evaluations of funding efforts have been able to identify those elements associated with successful programs, yet 17 years after ESEA there has been negligible evidence of the use of those research findings in urban school systems. The challenge is no longer to discover what components work, but rather to replicate those approaches that we know to be related to school success.

Marciene S. Mattleman
Sept. 29, 1982
From the Commentary: “Bringing Theory Into the Classroom: The Key to Successful Learning”

If the current insistence on noncomparable tests is enacted, the great promise of the [George W.] Bush education plan will be lost. Then we will have testing for the sake of testing, which will rob the initiative of its purpose. At great expense, we will have mountains of data, of no comparative value. The status quo will be reaffirmed. And count on it: Lots of children will still be left behind.

Diane Ravitch
May 2, 2001
From the Commentary: “The Travails of the Bush Plan for Education”

Despite the many fine education reform efforts of the past 20 years and the national commitment to learning that the federal No Child Left Behind Act appears to embody, teachers have not been provided with the necessary training and support to carry out these mandates.

Vartan Gregorian
Nov. 10, 2004
From the Commentary: “No More Silver Bullets”

The president’s No Child Left Behind law contains no plan to support racial integration or to further equity among poor and affluent schools.

Pedro A. Noguera & Robert Cohen
May 19, 2004
From the Commentary: “The Legacy of ‘All Deliberate Speed’”

With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government launched a historically unprecedented set of demands, with virtually no prior policy research, and with no provisions or resources for effectively studying the legislation’s unintended effects.

Eric Schaps
May 9, 2007
From the Commentary: “Why the No Child Left Behind Act Is Unsalvageable”

See Also: For reflections on the 10th anniversary of the signing of NCLB into law, including from Sen. Lamar Alexander, R.-Tenn.; former Rep. George Miller, D.-Calif.; Kaya Henderson; Lillian Lowery; Michael Mulgrew; and others, go to “NCLB: Perspectives on the Law.”

A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2015 edition of Education Week as Perspectives From the Archives


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