Perhaps for the first time, a Bush Administration official has admitted that there were problems with the last president’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reforms. Former Bush education advisor Celia Hartman Sims regretted her role in negotiating compromises on NCLB for the Bush administration with the late U. S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
“God, should I ever have gone to Kennedy’s office?” she said recently at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). She claimed that D.C. politicians got caught up in the “great idea of doing good” and “got into a fury of doing so much and we forget there were actual people that had to implement” imperfect policies in schools across the nation.
Sims agreed that local communities need more autonomy to see what works and what does not, because there is no single proven silver bullet to fix schools. “Some bureaucrat in D.C.” should not be empowered to dictate what local schools should and should not do.
Sims took the blame for the NCLB and thought “the federal government got way ahead of itself.” But, she does not want to return to what she calls “the Wild, Wild West” education system pre-NCLB. She wishes she “had a clean answer,” but concluded educators must be “willing to take some chance” to help schools and administrators succeed.
There is “no magical number” or “a quick fix” in education reform and educators must be in it for the long haul. Unfortunately, Sims said, the NCLB “cooked into the system so little transparency.”
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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