A genuine education president

George Will argues that President Bush’s No Child Left Behind program truly makes him “the education president,” in contrast to Bill Clinton, who was the “teacher’s unions’ president.” Other than the objections that NCLB constitutes an improper federal intrusion into education and that it doesn’t fund private schools as an option to failing public schools (objections that liberals hardly have standing to make), I’ve never really understood the arguments against the program, which was backed by roughly 90 percent of Congress at the time of its enactment. Will argues that those liberal objections that not about marginal or easily adjustable matters lack merit. For example, “Twenty states denounce NCLB as, among other things, an ‘unfunded mandate’ because they will need to spend money to rectify revealed shortcomings. But as they correctly insist, primary and secondary education — and their shortcomings — are primarily their responsibility: Federal money is just 8 percent of total spending on kindergarten through 12th grade. Besides, they can escape the NCLB intrusion if they are willing to forgo the federal intrusion they covet — $24.3 billion that flows from Washington for NCLB.”
With even John Kerry apparently unwilling to walk away the commitment to accountability that is the hallmark of NCLB, Will concludes on an optimistic note: “It took decades to defeat liberal resistance to welfare reform. Resistance to education reform is crumbling more quickly.”

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