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Commentary: Will the successor to ‘No Child’ be an improvement?

LA School Report | December 10, 2015



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By David L. Kirp

The No Child Left Behind law will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history. With a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress has overhauled federal education policy. The law’s successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act, is headed for the president’s desk, and he has signaled his intention to sign it. (He did, this morning.)

Good riddance to a misbegotten law. Will its replacement be any better?

No Child Left Behind, on the books since 2002, was supposed to close achievement gaps for disadvantaged students (racial and ethnic minorities, low-income students, youngsters with special needs and English learners) and to eliminate what President George W. Bush decried as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” The goal was audacious — by 2014, the law decreed, 100 percent of students would perform at grade level.

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