Advertisement

Education Secretary Responds To New 'No Child Left Behind' Bills11:19
Download

Play
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is pictured in Washington, Jan. 17, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is pictured in Washington, Jan. 17, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
This article is more than 5 years old.

Sixteen years ago under President George W. Bush, the American education system was introduced to No Child Left Behind. The policy's goal was that every public school student everywhere would be considered academically successful by 2014.

It is widely believed that that goal was never met and since the policy expired in 2007, the Obama administration - led by Education Secretary Arne Duncan - has been looking for a replacement.

After several failed attempts, now both the House and the Senate have passed their own bills to revise No Child Left Behind.

Members of the House and Senate are trying to iron out the differences between bills passed in each chamber to overhaul No Child Left Behind. Both bills would decrease federal authority, and increase local and state authority in education.

"Anyone who thinks this should be managed from Washington doesn't begin to understand the tremendous diversity and complexity of our nation."

Arne Duncan

"Anyone who thinks this should be managed from Washington doesn't begin to understand the tremendous diversity and complexity of our nation," Duncan told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. "You think about 100,000 schools, you think about 15,000 school districts, to think that anybody in Washington could figure out what's best for an inner-city child or a child in rural America or a child on a tribal reservation, that would be frankly the height of arrogance."

But can the two bills finally achieve the goals of the original Bush-era policy?

"They are moving away from sort of the one-size-fits-all prescriptions of No Child Left Behind," Duncan said. "We pushed very, very hard to get high quality early learning into the bill. Learning doesn't start at 5 years old, it starts at birth. There's a commitment to investing in innovation and scaling what works. They're looking to both assess students annually but also stop over-testing, so there's some steps in the right direction."

Duncan said there are still some areas where the current bill falls short, however.

"Where the bill needs to improve as it goes forward is, again, ultimately this is about equity," he said. "This law came out of 1965, out of the Civil Rights movement, and the law to date doesn't require schools to act when students are struggling. And I'm all for transparency, I'm all for having clear data, but we can't just admire a problem or observe a problem or label a problem. We have to change things for kids."

Guest

This segment aired on July 22, 2015.

Advertisement

Advertisement