Republicans Turning Against No Child Left Behind

The Washington Post reports today that Republicans in Congress are turning against the crown jewel of President Bush’s education policy, the No Child Left Behind Act:

More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate — including the House’s second-ranking Republican — will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush’s signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testing mandates.

For a White House fighting off attacks on its war policy and dealing with a burgeoning scandal at the Justice Department, the GOP dissidents’ move is a fresh blow on a new front. Among the co-sponsors of the legislation are House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key supporter of the measure in 2001, and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Bush’s most reliable defender in the Senate. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House GOP’s chief deputy whip and a supporter in 2001, has also signed on.

Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings with school administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the House Republican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt was convinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act are unacceptably onerous, Snyder said.

Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law was inevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts — GOP strongholds — think their schools have been adversely affected by the law. Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.

One Republican, Peter Hokstra of Michigan has authored a bill that would allow any state to opt out of NCLB by referendum or executive action:

“President Bush and I just see education fundamentally differently,” said Hoekstra, a longtime opponent of the law. “The president believes in empowering bureaucrats in Washington, and I believe in local and parental control.”

Unfortunately, neither of the bills being proposed to modify NCLB contain any of the ideas that Republicans used to put forward on education. There are no vouchers. School choice isn’t being mentioned. And let’s not even talk about testing teachers to ensure that they actually understand the subject they’re teaching.

Unfortunately, we’ve come a long way from the days when Ronald Reagan talked about abolishing the Department of Education. –

  • Brad Warbiany

    Republicans turning away from out-of-control federal funding of education? What will they do next, advocate for a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights?

    Who are these guys and where have they been for six years?

  • Eric Dondero

    We interviewed Cong. Hoekstra last night on “Libertarian Politics Live” at You can listen to the half hour interview at the link at Hoekstra gave us an in-depth view of his legislation to allow opting out of No Child Left Behind.

  • Kevin


    Funny how Republicans seem to rediscover limited government while in the minority. I’m thinking that’s where they should stay.

  • Eric Dondero

    Yeah, and by your logic, why not just reduce the Republican majority? Wouldn’t that make them even more libertarian?

    Just make sure that none of them get reelected, Congress controlled by the Democrats, and we’ll have all the limited government we’ve ever hoped for.

    Utterly silly logic you have there.

  • Doug Mataconis


    When Republicans vote and govern like Democrats, which is pretty much what they did from 2001-2006, then what’s the point of having a Republican majority ?