No Child Left Behind and the A-PLUS Act
January 8, 2007, marked the fifth anniversary of the eighth reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now commonly known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Numerous events were hosted by Congress, the White House, other government agencies, and private organizations to commemorate the occasion and to prepare for NCLB’s next reauthorization in the 110th Congress.
Although Home School Legal Defense Association was successful in lobbying for protective language for home educators in the final draft of NCLB, this law still represents one of the federal government’s largest expansions into education to date—a trend that concerns us. Despite NCLB’s increased educational funding and regulation, many educators, policy makers, and others believe that the act has not produced the academic success that its proponents envisioned. More money does not equal smarter students.
At another January 8 event, held at the Heritage Foundation, Senators John Cornyn (TX) and Jim DeMint (SC) unveiled a new proposal—the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act of 2007. The A-PLUS Act, a conservative alternative to NCLB, would begin to reduce the role of the federal government in education by increasing local control over education and giving states far more flexibility to develop educational initiatives. States could opt to sign a five-year performance agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that would allow state and local authorities to make decisions on how best to help students with available resources. States could then use federal funds on state-directed initiatives in exchange for monitoring and reporting academic results. While far from eliminating the federal government’s role in education, A-PLUS is a positive and significant start. (See www.cornyn.senate.gov.)
Why does HSLDA pay such close attention to NCLB and federal involvement in education? First, our monitoring of such legislation and our involvement in the legislative process have enabled us to successfully protect home educators from negative provisions in previous reauthorizations of ESEA. Second, legislation such as A-PLUS dampens calls for the federal government to institute national standards or a national test that could lead to a national curriculum, thus restricting the freedom of home educators.
As HSLDA works to protect home educators from federal control in the NCLB reauthorization, we also support efforts to shrink the federal government’s role in education.
|About the author
Will Estrada is HSLDA’s director of federal relations.