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NCLB Outrages

Success of Title Left The Copycats Behind

By Christopher Lee

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has made a mark, though perhaps not the one the president intended.

The catchy title has spawned many legislative imitations, and it has infiltrated political rhetoric to a degree rivaled in recent memory only by the now-tired phrase "Show me the money," made famous in the 1996 movie "Jerry Maguire."

Occasionally the president's critics have turned the phrase back on him, as in early 2003, when then-Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and other Democrats labeled Bush's tax-cut proposal the "Leave No Millionaire Behind Act."

Then there is the new Leave No District Behind PAC, which aims to help Democrats take back the House by making the party's candidates competitive in more congressional districts.

And, after it was revealed last year that the Bush administration had paid commentator Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind law, the San Francisco Chronicle published a critical editorial entitled, "Leave No Ethics Behind."

Among the legislative efforts No Child has given rise to -- some of which have nothing to do with children or education -- are:

Leave All Blades Behind Act (2005), which would prevent the Transportation Security Administration from lifting a ban on scissors and other sharp objects in the cabins of commercial airliners. Sponsors are Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.).

Leave No Securities Behind Act (2003) by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), which would give the Securities and Exchange Commission more authority over financial products of Fannie Mae.

Leave No Abused or Neglected Child Behind Act (2005) by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), which would change requirements for foster care and adoption assistance.

No Qualified Teacher Left Behind Act (2005) by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), which would revise the definition of a "highly qualified" teacher and provide grants for teacher training.

No School Left Behind Act (2004) by then-Rep. Frank W. Ballance Jr. (D-N.C.), which would allow states to waive certain requirements of a 1965 education law that provided federal assistance to poor schools.

Fully Fund the No Child Left Behind Act (2003) by Rep. Bobby R. Etheridge (D-N.C.), which would suspend some requirements of No Child Left Behind if federal money is not available to fund them.

None of the bills has passed; in fact, none has even made it out of committee. Talk of millionaires notwithstanding, Bush was able to push through his tax-cut package in 2003, albeit a scaled-down version. And while analysts say the GOP may be vulnerable in some House districts next year, they chalk it up to an unpopular war in Iraq and a spate of scandals involving Republicans, not any fledgling Democratic political action committee.

Perhaps is it time to leave the "left behind" rhetoric, well, behind.

— Christopher Lee
Washington Post


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