Conservatives Vote Against Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind but it Passes Anyway!

You may not have seen it on Thursday but the horrible federally driven No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was reauthorized by Congress, even though many conservatives stood against the legislation.

As a former public school teacher I cannot express to you enough the many problems created by a federally driven program, but NCLB goes above and beyond when it comes to poor execution. Federally mandated and nationally forced standardized testing is the foundation that NCLB is built upon, and it’s a horrible way to measure what kids know or how our schools are performing. As most of you know by now, schools across the country now focus on teaching directly to the test in an effort to pass their performance evaluations. By doing so, our system of education is weakened even further. The worst part about NCLB is that it was driven by a Republican President (George W. Bush in concert with Senator Ted Kennedy)!

Conservatives have been saying for years that education works best when it is locally driven and the federal government stays out of the way – but then a Republican President ties the federal government to the schools tighter than ever! It’s just sad.

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The House on Wednesday voted to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law, resurrecting a bill that Republican leaders were forced to pull from the floor earlier this year due to conservative opposition.

Passage fell narrowly along party lines on a vote of 218-213, with 27 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition to nearly derail it on the floor. 

NCLBFor most of the roll call, the bill had more votes against it than in favor. Many Republicans either held out their votes until the last minute or changed their votes under pressure from GOP leaders.

Sadly, while the conservatives had to join with the liberals on this vote and only Republicans voted to reauthorize. How bad are things getting when conservatives are forced to vote with liberal Democrats?

Here’s some reaction on NCLB from conservative warriors who fought against it.


Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)

I will always stand up for the right of parents to educate our children as we see fit. Unfortunately, on Wednesday the House passed ‪#‎HR5 to reauthorize ‪#‎NoChildLeftBehind, which further entrenches the federal government in our children’s education. This was a big step backward for those of us who care about local control.


Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)



One of the recurring problems in Washington is the failure to admit when something does not work. Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. The idea behind the act was that the federal government could improve K-12 education outcomes by imposing a series of testing requirements and other mandates on states and local school boards. After more than a decade of experience with No Child Left Behind, it is clear that further expanding the federal role in K-12 education has not produced positive results, alienating teachers and parents alike.

Today, the House considered H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which reauthorizes No Child Left Behind. While the bill contains some positive reforms, the basic structure of the bill perpetuates the top-heavy approach of the original No Child Left Behind law, as it retains a number of intrusive mandates. I voted against H.R. 5 because I believe we need to empower teachers, parents and local school boards by devolving K-12 policy to the states. We should admit the failure of No Child Left Behind and pursue a better approach.

To this end, Rep. Mark Walker (NC) and I proposed an amendment to H.R. 5 commonly known as A-PLUS, which would allow states to opt out of No Child Left Behind Mandates entirely. Under this policy, the federal government would not be able to condition federal funding on states adhering to No Child Left Behind mandates; a state would be able to use federal funds as they see fit, which would lead to innovation and better serve students. The amendment failed but received 195 votes – the most ever for such a major education reform of this kind.


Ted Yoho (R-FL)

NCLB2“I personally feel that we should get rid of the Department of Education but in reality that is not going to happen under this president. After close review of this bill – and the amendments that were made to it – I feel the Student Success Act doesn’t go far enough.

“Therefore, with future generations in mind, along with doing what is best for the country, I voted against the bill that could have done more to curb the Administration’s expansive agenda with our nation’s schools. We need to reform the system, save money, increase state and local control of education, and get rid of Common Core. Additionally, three of my amendments which would have brought more parental control and financial responsibility were not included in the bill.

“I would rather see the bill I introduced earlier this year – The Transform Education in America through Choice Act (TEACH).  My bill will go further than the bill that passed tonight in reducing government spending and reducing the size of the Department of Education.”  


Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Massie voted against NCLB as well.

This week Congress will vote to reauthorize programs implemented by “No Child Left Behind.” Of course that euphemism wore thin, so this year it will be re-named the “Student Success Act” (‪#‎HR5). Even with a new name and some updates, the result of the 600+ page bill is still the same as “No Child Left Behind”… to perpetuate Federal control of what should be state and local educational decisions.

I wish more congressmen agreed with Reagan when he said on September 24, 1981 in his Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery:

“As a third step, we propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education. Both Secretaries are wholly in accord with this. Some of the activities in both of these departments will, of course, be continued either independently or in other areas of government. There’s only one way to shrink the size and cost of big government, and that is by eliminating agencies that are not needed and are getting in the way of a solution.”

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