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On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Leave No Child Behind Act, enacting legislation that infuses the federal government into public education more than ever before as it attempts to increase —and accurately measure—the educational achievement of American students. The Leave No Child Behind Act requires that America’s public school children be administered standardized tests in reading and math and that all schools be held accountable for student performance. It would also allow government vouchers to fund the private education of students from failing public schools and would hold teachers to stricter educational standards.
Many argue that the emphasis on academic testing will divert attention from other developmental and social needs of children that have long been a focus of schools. Vouchers could drain the very funds needed to improve public education. Stricter teacher training might further deplete the ranks of a profession already losing many of its best and brightest.
One month after the signing of this historic piece of educational legislation, over 600 policy makers, teachers, researchers and parents met at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina to discuss this law and other important issues affecting schoolchildren today.
Duke University’s historic Education Leadership Summit in February 2002 provided the unique opportunity to view the evolution of the U.S. Department of Education through the eyes of those who served as its leaders – bringing together, for the first time, the current U.S. Secretary of Education along with four former U.S. Secretaries of Education to discuss issues in education policy. The focal point of the Educational Leadership Summit was the secretaries of education roundtable to both debate the sweeping changes in the nation’s educational system and answer questions put to them by Summit participants.
The spirited discussion that followed, not only sized up the current President’s often-controversial legislation, but also the spotlighted the current state of education in the United States through the issues of accountability, character education, teacher shortages, minority achievement gaps and global education. The result is an insightful, spirited look at American public education.
Hosted by Kenneth A. Dodge, director of the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, and Ann Denlinger, superintendent of Durham Public Schools, UNC-TV’s hour-long program Education Leadership Summit: Leave No Child Behind captures all five of the participating secretaries reflecting on the chief issues of their respective tenures and recent educational legislation. From school vouchers to global educational issues, this informative production yields historical perspectives, pressing challenges and future recommendations on many of the subjects affecting America’s teachers, parents, students and schools.
Celebrated education policymaker and former four-term North Carolina Governor James Hunt moderates the roundtable discussion with Secretary William J. Bennett (U.S. Secretary of Education, 1985 - 1988), Secretary Lauro F. Cavazos (U.S. Secretary of Education, 1988 - 1990), Secretary Lamar Alexander (U.S. Secretary of Education, 1991 – 1993), Secretary Richard W. Wiley (U.S. Secretary of Education, 1993 – 2001), and current U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick Paige.