'No Child Left Behind' Reform Might Be Overblown
'Unlikely to produce many changes that are actually visible on the ground'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2015 11:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Goodbye No Child Left Behind, hello Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress on Thursday overhauled the former into the latter, and President Obama signed it into law, reports CNN. The big talking point out of the bipartisan deal is one summed up by David Kirp in an op-ed at the New York Times: The new act "shifts, for the first time since the Reagan years, the balance of power in education away from Washington and back to the states." And "that’s a welcome about-face" in Kirp's view. He rounds up a litany of teach-to-the-test criticisms about the original Bush-era law, arguing that it's done more harm than good and was long overdue for the scrap heap. "Good riddance." This end-of-an era sentiment is common in coverage, writes Alia Wong at the Atlantic, who cautions that the reform isn't as sweeping as headlines suggest.

"For all the breathless hype, the legislation seems unlikely to produce many changes that are actually visible on the ground," writes Wong. For one thing, 42 states already have waivers from the No Child Left Behind requirements deemed the most odious. And while the new act does have promising new elements, including funding to expand access to preschool, Wong thinks that "all the applause and whoops and back-patting" are a little much. The piece concludes with a link to another op-ed by Conor Williams, who calls the new act a "brilliant piece of political posturing" at the74million.org. "It takes a relatively simple federal accountability system, removes the teeth, and layers on a bunch of vague responsibilities for states," he writes. "Just because something is a compromise doesn’t mean that it will do good things for children." Click for the full posts from Kirp, Wong, or Williams.