Argument: States are free to opt out of No Child Left Behind
Chester Finn Jr. "5 Myths About No Child Left Behind". Washington Post. March 30, 2008 - 1. No Child Left Behind is an unprecedented extension of federal control over schools.
This allegation comes most often from Republicans who, claiming that they voted for the legislation only out of courtesy toward President Bush, have forgotten the bipartisan consensus that helped enact it. It's also a common complaint from state officials, who want fewer strings on their federal dollars.
But NCLB isn't compulsory. States that don't want to jump through its hoops are free to forgo their federal dollars. (Several, such as Utah, Nebraska and Virginia, came close to doing just that, but the lure of those funds helped them overcome their reservations.) The legislation isn't unprecedented, either -- it's just another incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, one of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society monuments. That law's centerpiece program, known as Title I, has pumped billions of federal dollars into education for poor children over the past 43 years. And the Improving America's Schools Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, was No Child Left Behind-lite, with similar expectations for states and districts but fewer rules and timelines.