Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

No Strings Left Behind

Federal money brings federal control. That's the reality of all federal programs -- and something demonstrated anew by President Bush's No Child Left Behind education law.

"Under NCLB, the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education," concluded a report on No Child Left Behind released Feb. 23 by the National Conference of State (California) Legislatures. "This assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades."

California in particular is being affected. The Feb. 17 Los Angeles Times reported that this year only 14 of the state's 1,000 school districts were placed on a "watch list" of those needing improvement. "But hundreds of districts could be considered failures within two years if California yielded to Washington's demands, according to state education officials."

Well, we've long argued for stronger state standards. And when No Child Left Behind was being debated in Congress four years ago, we warned it would come with strings attached. Congress passed it and all the states have accepted the money. The state lawmakers' protest is coming a little late.

"They're trying to close the barn door when the horses have left," Lance Izumi, director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute, said. "They should have objected to it at a much earlier date. The states already are investing lots of money in state accountability systems."

The state legislators' report made 43 specific recommendations to make No Child Left Behind more amenable to state innovation. One of the legislators' recommendations reads, "Fully fund the act and provide states the financial flexibility to meet its goals. The federal government funds less than 8 percent of the nation's education program ... ." If you beg for even more federal money, don't be surprised if the feds aren't going to be eager to give up their centralized control.

If state legislators really are concerned about keeping control of their own schools, they might consider refusing all federal money for education.

— Editorial
The Desert Dispatch


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.