The greatest victory of business reformers was the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
In the lead up to the reauthorisation of the NCLB Act in 2007, the BRT and the US Chamber of Commerce formed a coalition with some 80 corporations and business groups, including Intel, Ernst & Young and Microsoft, named the Business Coalition for Student Achievement, to push for the reauthorisation and expansion of the NCLB legislation to cover high schools and include science testing. It is co-chaired by Edward Rust of State Farm and Craig Barrett, Chair of Intel.
The BRT claims that the Business Coalition for Excellence in Education (BCEE), whose members included 69 national business organizations and individual corporations, had “a tremendous impact on the legislation with most of its key recommendations incorporated into the new law. Some reforms that business sought would have turned out weaker or been dropped altogether without the advocacy of the Business Coalition.” The coalition particularly focussed on the law’s testing requirements.
Having succeeded in having the NCLB passed into legislation the BRT ran a series of advertisements in 2003 promoting it and its goals. It also campaigned for the business community to ensure that NCLB was fully implemented in each state. To this end it produced a tool kit for business leaders, Using the “No Child Left Behind Act” to Improve the Schools in your State, which urged business people “to use business resources – the bully pulpit, financial and in-kind investments, and influence”; to convene taskforces and working groups; to testify, lobby, visit key state officials, educate and involve employees; and to “identify the leverage points in the implementation process where influence can be applied” to ensure that “the strongest outcomes envisioned in the law” were implemented in each state.
In addition the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation teamed up in 2007 for a $60 million “Strong American Schools” campaign to ensure that education is a strong election issue and to promote strong curriculum standards, standardised testing and merit-based pay for teachers.
The US Chamber of Commerce also produced a report, Leaders and Laggards, giving each state a “return on investment” grade based on how well it conformed to the business formula for schools. Considerations included how much control principals in the state had over budgets and hiring of teachers; the extent that student test performance data was used; the ability to improve student test results; and the extent to which teacher pay was affected by student test results.
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