A Guide to Education and No Child Left Behind
October 2004
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The History of No Child Left Behind

The principles of No Child Left Behind date back to Brown v. Board of Education, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools and determined that the "separate but equal doctrine" was unconstitutional. That decision is now 50 years old.

Just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act became law in 1965. No Child Left Behind is the 21st-century iteration of this first major federal foray into education policy--a realm that is still mainly a state and local function, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

On Jan. 8, 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) into law with overwhelming bipartisan support. The final votes were 87-10 in the Senate and 381-41 in the House. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Congressmen George Miller (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH) were its chief sponsors in the Senate and the House.

No Child Left Behind ensures accountability and flexibility as well as increased federal support for education. No Child Left Behind continues the legacy of the Brown v. Board decision by creating an education system that is more inclusive, responsive, and fair.

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Last Modified: 03/08/2006