Book Review: Lee W. Anderson, Congress and the Classroom: From the Cold War to "No Child Left Behind"

Priscilla Wohlstetter
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Fall 2008
Academy of Political Science
It was considered strange and a bit odd when many conservatives in Congress joined liberals to enact the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which most political observers argued represented an unprecedented role for the federal government in education policy. By tradition, conservatives had been more likely to prefer state, local, and private initiatives to federal laws and regulations; liberals, on the other hand, favor the federal government offering solutions to help meet needs that states and school systems are unable to meet themselves. Lee Anderson traces the evolution of federal involvement in education as a function of the narrowing ideological positions of liberals and conservatives. While conventional wisdom holds that NCLB represents a marked departure from previous federal policies, Anderson's position is that NCLB was more of an outgrowth of (rather than as a radical departure from) previous federal education policies.