‘No Child Left Behind Act’ Bites the Dust: Obama Signs New Education Law Shifting Power to the States

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President Barack Obama, flanked by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., left, and the committee’s ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., signs the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” a major education law setting U.S. public schools on a new course of accountability: AP/Evan Vucci

By Glynn Wilson –

Finally, the despised and unworkable George W. Bush-Republican Congress “No Child Left Behind Act” is history.

President Obama on Thursday signed a new law, which passed the House and Senate with rare bipartisan support, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which gives state governments the power to evaluate schools and determine how to address problems.

President Obama called it “a Christmas miracle. A bipartisan bill signing.”

The change does not necessarily mean U.S. public schools will improve, but as the language shows, states will now have the authority to decide whether to continue, halt or revise the kind of educational oppression of students and teachers previously imposed by Washington.

The new law changes much about the federal government’s role in education, largely by scaling back Washington’s influence. While ESSA keeps in place the basic testing requirements of No Child Left Behind, it strips away many of the high stakes that had been attached to student scores.

The new law expands access to high-quality preschool and eliminates a requirement that states use student scores to evaluate teachers.

The job of evaluating schools and deciding how to fix them will shift largely back to states. The Bush law, Obama said, “…often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.”

© 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.