November 17, 2008
Reading Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education, one well-worn word just about sums up their plans for education reform: ‘expand’ (1). They plan to take just about every education initiative and policy utilised by the Bush administration and do more of it. In essence, their plan for education will expand state intervention into school life, furthering trends towards marketisation, managerialism, standardisation and testing, external accountability, intervention in family life, and making education subservient to the needs of the economy.
In the US, the most significant piece of legislation for school reform in recent years was the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), passed under George W Bush in 2001. Although the law is now tainted by its association with Bush, it was by no means his idea. The roots of standardised testing and external accountability go back to the 1980s and the government report A Nation At Risk, which highlighted falling educational standards in American schools and warned of a knock-on effect for the American economy and prestige more broadly.