Submission Date

4-20-2015

Document Type

Paper

Department

Politics

Adviser

Dr. Jonathan Marks

Committee Member

Dr. John Spencer

Committee Member

Dr. Gerard Fitzpatrick

Department Chair

Dr. Rebecca Evans

External Reviewer

Dr. Ellen Skilton-Sylvester

Distinguished Honors

This paper has met the requirements for Distinguished Honors

Project Description

When No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law in early 2002, many hoped the legislation would help reduce achievement gaps among traditionally underperforming populations. For Hispanic students specifically, however, NCLB has contributed to educational inequality, school segregation, and high drop-out rates in major ways. Given these outcomes and trends, it is surprising that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and other Hispanic American interest groups overwhelmingly supported NCLB despite potentially being able to anticipate how the law would hurt Hispanic students. The political environment of 2001 left members of the CHC with few options other than to vote for No Child Left Behind. Public opinion, electoral and inter-party politics, ideological weakening on education issues among conservatives, new coalitions, increased diversity among interest groups, and the advent of 9/11 all contributed to a political environment that facilitated the passage of NCLB. Furthermore, scholarship on Congressional decision-making leads one to believe that the CHC’s support should be expected, within the context of conditional party government, given the CHC’s ties with the Democratic Party. Finally, No Child Left Behind contained valuable provisions that the CHC wanted, and these members of Congress could only begin to anticipate the shortcomings in the legislation given the information known in 2001. Therefore, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s support of No Child Left Behind can be understood given the political environment of the time, theories of Congressional decision-making, and rational calculations about the advantages for Hispanic students in the legislation.