Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Dan Lips has a new article up at NRO on the future of conservatives and No Child Left Behind:
Even the bill’s most conservative elements have proven to be a disappointment. Too few children have benefited from the law’s very modest school-choice provisions. And while the law has rightly focused national attention on public-school performance, its combination of lofty goals and penalties for missing testing benchmarks has encouraged states to weaken their standards to make tests easier to pass. Left unfixed, this problem could erode the gains that have been made in making public education more transparent.
NCLB has succeeded in one area, though: expanding federal power. Federal spending on K-12 education has increased by 41 percent since 2001. The Department of Education has been granted new powers to micromanage how states and localities run their schools. The cost of bureaucratic compliance has increased — resulting in more education dollars spent on administration than in the classroom. In all, NCLB increased the regulatory burden on state and local governments by 6.7 million hours annually — approximately $140 million.
The time has come to abandon the big-government approach in education. Transferring power from Washington to parents and local leaders would be a welcome change after No Child Left Behind.