American President George Bush explains the rationale behind his ‘No Child Left Behind’ education law of 2002:
We’ve got large challenges here in America. There’s no greater challenge than to make sure that every child—and all of us on this stage mean every child, not just a few children—every single child, regardless of where they live, how they’re raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America …
The first principle is accountability. Every school has a job to do. And that’s to teach the basics and teach them well. If we want to make sure no child is left behind, every child must learn to read. And every child must learn to add and subtract. So in return for federal dollars, we are asking states to design accountability systems to show parents and teachers whether or not children can read and write and add and subtract in grades three through eight.
The fundamental principle of this bill is that every child can learn, we expect every child to learn, and you must show us whether or not every child is learning. I read a quote one time from a young lady in New York. She said, ‘I don’t ever remember taking an exam. They just kept passing me along. I ended up dropping out in the 7th grade. I basically felt nobody cared’ …
The first way to solve a problem is to diagnose it. And so, what this bill says, it says every child can learn. And we want to know early, before it’s too late, whether or not a child has a problem in learning. I understand taking tests aren’t fun. Too bad. We need to know in America. We need to know whether or not children have got the basic education.
No longer is it acceptable to hide poor performance. No longer is it acceptable to keep results away from parents … There must be a moment in which parents can say, I’ve had enough of this school. Parents must be given real options in the face of failure in order to make sure reform is meaningful.
And so, therefore, this bill’s second principle is, is that we trust parents to make the right decisions for their children. Any school that doesn’t perform, any school that cannot catch up and do its job, a parent will have these options — a better public school, a tutor, or a charter school. We do not want children trapped in schools that will not change and will not teach.
President Signs Landmark No Child Left Behind Education Bill, Hamilton High School,
Hamilton, Ohio, 8 January 2002. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020108–1.html