Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009

No Child Left Behind

One of this generation's most sweeping education reform laws may not have been passed without Sen. Kennedy's strong support. Kennedy worked closely with President George W. Bush to advance the No Child Left Behind Act, one of Bush's earliest accomplishments and, critics say, his last meaningful attempt at bipartisanship. Their unlikely alliance on the measure led Bush to jokingly reference "my friend Ted Kennedy" in his 2002 State of the Union speech, delivered weeks after the law was passed. Though praised by reform advocates for boosting accountability from schools, the law became anathema to many teachers and parents, who opposed its heavy reliance on standardized testing. Democrats eventually rued Kennedy's support; Bill Clinton called it a "train wreck" and, in a 2008 editorial, Kennedy himself acknowledged its "results are mixed." Far more popular was Kennedy's support for expanding the Head Start school readiness program for low-income children.