President George W. Bush On NCLB

Over the past week we’ve heard a lot about what everyone thinks about No Child Left Behind except from the man who signed it – George W. Bush.  In his only interview about the law’s 10 year anniversary I talked with the former President about No Child’s legacy and the current debate about it.  That’s this week’s School of Thought column at TIME:

No Child Left Behind turned 10 this week, and former President George W. Bush, who led the effort to enact the landmark federal education law, marked the anniversary with an exclusive interview with Time education columnist Andrew J. Rotherham. Bush discussed the law and its legacy, criticized both parties for trying to walk away from its hard-nosed accountability efforts, and called on President Obama to resist “the temptation to take the easy path.”

Mr. President, 10 years in, what’s your take on No Child Left Behind?

First of all, I am extremely proud of the effects of No Child Left Behind. For the first time, the federal government basically demanded results in return for money. It started by saying, We expect you to measure [student performance]. As a result, there has been a noticeable change in achievement, particularly among minority groups…

What will it take to rebuild a consensus on accountability?

Well, I think it’s going to take presidential leadership. The President is going to have to be very firm in resisting the temptation to take the easy path…

In your view, how much of the criticism of the law is about the specifics, and how much is just partisan politics?

In some circles, punching No Child Left Behind is a way to basically say, I’m against Big Government. In fact, No Child Left Behind is a way to promote efficient government. In a lot of these debates, you don’t hear real detail or analysis about how to improve the law…

Read the entire interview at TIME via this link. And a version of the interview will be in next week’s magazine.

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