Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name

Monday, September 24, 2007

The days of President Bush's signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind, might be numbered -- not the program, but the name.

Lawmakers working on legislation to reform the program say they are considering a new moniker. One reason, said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a key sponsor of the original bill that transformed K-12 education in the country by ushering in an era of high-stakes standardized testing, is that "No Child" is inextricably linked to Bush. And Bush, he said, has become unpopular.

Furthermore, he said, people simply don't like the name.

"People find it an incredible insult [to suggest] that we are deliberately leaving children behind," he said.

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the nonprofit Children's Defense Fund, is all for a name change, partly because she said Bush's law was actually "a usurpation" of the fund's federally registered Leave No Child Behind service mark and trademark.

Her preference: "Quality Education for All Children Act" or simply amending Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami, offered: "Children First!"

Andrew Friedson, president of the Student Government Association at the University of Maryland at College Park, had a few suggestions that show his dislike of the current law: "No Child Left a Brain Act" and "All the Money Left Behind Act."

Envisioning a new program was Dorothy Rich, founder and director of the nonprofit Home and School Institute, with these possible names: "New Partnerships for Student Achievement" or "Educating Americans for Today's World."

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, suggested that a good "outcomes-focused title" could be "The Lifelong Economic Security Act," which she said would speak to individuals as well as corporate executives calling for a better-educated workforce.

An "aspirational" title, she said, could be "Give Children a Fair Chance Act."

"But I'm not sure the actual legislation would live up to the name," McGuire said.

-- Valerie Strauss

© 2007 The Washington Post Company