No Child Left Behind Act  1

On January 8, 2002, George W. Bush signed into law, the No Child Left Behind Act. For 5,084 days, the United States has engaged in despicable acts of child labor, forcing its children to slog through physically and emotionally harmful toil and stresses, for reasons that have nothing to do with what was best for them.

We have speculated about the intent of No Child Left Behind, a title that exemplifies political PR’s employment of the english language to “..make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.”1 Our speculations have varied into the realms of conspiracy, going so far as to suspect an all out effort to kill public education in America. We have delighted in our own retitling of the law, my favorite being, “No Child Left able to Think for Him Self.”

Sometime today, President Barrack Obama will sign into law, Every Student Succeeds, overhauling the flawed NCLB, which has corrupted the institution of public education for 14 years. Just like the Bush-era law, Every Student Succeeds emanates from political machinations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel calling it a victory for “conservative reform.”2

Of course, returning education to the hands of parents, teachers, states and school boards is not a solution. It is an opportunity for courageous and inventive educators to seise. So here are some suggestions from one in a minority of educators, who actually remember classrooms unconstrained by policy compliance and political accountability.

R Throw the scripts away and Resourcefully invent practices that work here and now or our tomorrow.
I Return scientifically proven research to its proper function and Innovate. Bring back the art of teaching.
P Reject the practices of beating our children over their heads with test-prep. Instead, inflect them with Passion. Become passionate again about teaching and what it is that you teach, and make it glow with that passion.
N Take the “No” out of education. For 5,000 days, education has been defined by it limits.  Education today must be defined by its lack of limits.
C Don’t teach students to collaborate, to be communicators, to be creative. Instead, create learning experiences that utilize Collaboration, Communication and Creativity to energize students’ accomplishment of things bigger than they are.
L Reinvent Literacy. Free yourself and your students from 19th century notions of the three-Rs.  Look for the literacies that instill in us all, a learning lifestyle.
B Be Bold. Courageously teach, what has not been taught before and craft learning experiences that are new and exciting. You students will love you for it, and their communities will fund your educational programs.



1 Orwell, G. (1946). Politics and the English Language. Penguin.

2 Barrett, T. (2015, December 9). Obama to sign ‘No Child Left Behind’ Overhaul. CNN. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from



5 thoughts on “RIP NCLB”

  1. Thank you for the excellent and scathing article about NCLB. It is rather interesting for me to read this post as my first job in a public school came because the high school needed a paraprofessional who could help students study for the ACT exam – specifically the Science section of this exam. While I did my due diligence to teach the test to students – that is what I was hired for – I certainly found incredible resistance and boredom from the students. It seemed liked the harder I tried to teach the test to my students, the more they hated the subject of science. Indeed, high stakes’ testing has a nasty way of creating negative feelings toward school in students. However, given all of those things, what is the best way to encourage improvement in our schools? NCLB was created for a reason. Our schools seem to be lagging behind in performance compared to the rest of the world. This in spite of the amount of money that we spend on education and the number of hours that our students spend in the school building. If we are not going to improve education through legislation such as NCLB, then what is the best policy adjustment that our country can make that will actually make a difference? And are there things that we can learn from other countries that will help improve education in this country?

  2. I’m glad the NCLB is gone, but what doe ESSA, actually do? Power has been given to the states to “Race to the Top” for federal dollars and for the past two years we have been force fed Common Core and PARCC, under NCLB students spent less time testing in my school district than they do now under Common core. With ESSA, will states realize that the PARCC is not an effective measure of student knowledge? Also, how does ESSA support teachers and teacher leaders? I appreciate your call to arms for teachers to reclaim their classrooms for themselves, but at least in my school we are still held accountable based on the PARCC, and some variance of Danielson’s model for effective teaching.

  3. I appreciate the RIP NCLB acronym, and really hope the RIP part stands true. For so long we as educators have been constricted to what has to be taught and how to teach this rather than letting us be the passionate people that got into teaching. If administrators allow us to think RESOURCEFULLY for our students and give us the room to INNOVATE I think a lot of the PASSION that has left this profession will come back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *