September 03, 2008
As far as Gadfly knows and as of this writing, not one major orator at the Republican convention has uttered the phrase "No Child Left Behind" or any anagram thereof (e.g., flinched in the bold). First lady Laura Bush on Tuesday touted her husband's education-policy achievements, but even she neglected to identify by name what is arguably his biggest domestic accomplishment. This is unsurprising: NCLB is unpopular and elections are not won by candidates associated with unpopular things. But perhaps Republicans are also avoiding the law because they don't want to exacerbate the related rift in their party's ranks. The conservative wing of the GOP remains adamantly hostile to NCLB. But even some who worked closely with the law are attempting to distance themselves from it; Eugene Hickok, who served in the Bush Education Department as deputy secretary, bluntly called NCLB "a damaged brand." So, where does the Republican presidential nominee plant his flag? We found out yesterday, after John McCain's campaign told Education Week that the senator will "champion assessments and accountability, and he will be able to persuade the more conservative wing of his party... to support those policies." This issue isn't going away, and after the election is decided one way or the other, it will be interesting to watch the GOP deal with its internal NCLB-strife.
"Republicans may waver over NCLB," by Alyson Klein, Education Week, September 3, 2008