Federal Federal File

What Would L.B.J. Make of the NCLB Act?

By David J. Hoff — September 20, 2007 1 min read

If Lyndon B. Johnson were alive today, he’d probably be leading the chorus of those who say the No Child Left Behind Act is insufficiently funded.

The 36th president, who proposed the original version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and signed it into law in 1965, envisioned that funding under the ESEA would quickly become a large portion of school districts’ budgets, according to a former federal official who helped write the law.

“He would be terribly disappointed that the funding is as low as it is,” Samuel Halperin, who was an assistant U.S. commissioner of education in 1965, said in an interview Sept. 17.

That morning, Mr. Halperin was among dozens of Mr. Johnson’s family members and former aides who attended a ceremony that marked the naming of the Department of Education’s headquarters for the Texas Democrat. Formerly called Federal Building 6, the building near the U.S. Capitol is now the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. Congress approved the honor in March.

President Johnson had envisioned that ESEA funding would grow quickly after the law’s enactment, reaching within five years the equivalent of $30 billion in today’s dollars, Mr. Halperin said. In the current fiscal year, the NCLB law’s programs are budgeted at $23.6 billion.

Federal funding “would have been much more pervasive,” said Mr. Halperin, 77, who is now semiretired but remains a senior fellow at the American Youth Policy Forum in Washington.

Even if Mr. Johnson would have been disappointed in today’s funding levels, Mr. Halperin speculated that the famed legislative dealmaker might have supported the testing and accountability measures under the 5½-year-old law, the latest version of the ESEA.

“I think he would have endorsed them, but not at the expense of losing the bill,” Mr. Halperin said.

Such provisions weren’t seriously considered when Congress wrote the original law, he said.

First, the technology didn’t exist then to analyze and report test scores as quickly as today. Second, lawmakers trusted that educators would make good decisions with the federal money provided to them.

“People believed that educators knew what to do,” Mr. Halperin said.

See Also

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

A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
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.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
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.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

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 Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Fact Check: After Furor Over 1619 Project, Feds Adjust History and Civics Grant Plans
A previously obscure history and civics program has weathered a political storm, but what exactly has changed?
4 min read
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP
Federal 'Stop CRT' Bill, Votes in Congress Add to Political Drama Over Critical Race Theory
Sen. Tom Cotton's legislation and votes about critical race theory in the House underscore the issue's potency in Washington.
5 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing to examine United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 25 in Washington.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Senators Grill Civil Rights Nominee on Transgender Students, Sexual Assault Investigations
If confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights, Catherine Lhamon will handle some of the Education Department's most sensitive issues.
6 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.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP