Year
2002
Month Day
January 08

President George W. Bush signs No Child Left Behind Act into law

On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law. The sweeping update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 created new standards and goals for the nation’s public schools and implemented tough corrective measures for schools that failed to meet them. Today, it is largely regarded as a failed experiment.

NCLB passed both houses of Congress easily and with bipartisan support. Future Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, and longtime Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy were among its sponsors. The bill aimed to address what both parties agreed was an unacceptable drop in standards in America’s public schools. The new law mandated that states create measures of Adequate Yearly Progress based on standardized tests. Schools that did not meet AYP requirements were subject to increasingly harsher actions by the state, such as giving students the options to transfer after 2 years of missing AYP goals or even the wholesale restructuring of a school after 5 years.

While some schools did see improvements in test scores, the results were uneven and often negative. Teachers complained that standardized testing cut into class time and forced them to “teach to the test” rather than to their students’ needs. Many felt that requiring all schools statewide to achieve the same goals unfairly punished both schools that were already performing well and schools in underserved areas. Others argued in principle against threatening underperforming schools with corrective measures, while some accused Republicans of using the law to turn private schools over to charter school companies or private businesses.

In 2015, NCLB was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which retained parts of the old law but attempted to make it less punitive to underperforming schools. Today, NCLB is often cited as an overly harsh approach to education reform, while many Americans simply remember it as the reason they had to take so many standardized tests. 

READ MORE: In Early 1800s American Classrooms, Students Governed Themselves

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Fidel Castro arrives in Havana after deposing Batista's regime

On January 8, 1959, a triumphant Fidel Castro enters Havana, having deposed the American-backed regime of General Fulgencio Batista. Castro's arrival in the Cuban capital marked a definitive victory for his 26th of July Movement and the beginning of Castro's decades-long rule ...read more

African American men gain the right to vote in Washington, D.C.

On January 8, 1867, African American men gain the right to vote in the District of Columbia despite the veto of its most powerful resident, President Andrew Johnson. The Republican-controlled senate overrode Johnson by a vote of 29-10 three years before a constitutional amendment ...read more

The U.S. national debt reaches $0 for the first time

On January 8, 1835, President Andrew Jackson achieves his goal of entirely paying off the United States’ national debt. It was the only time in U.S. history that the national debt stood at zero, and it precipitated one of the worst financial crises in American history. The ...read more

Infamous drug lord "El Chapo" is captured by Mexican authorities

In the early hours of January 8, 2016, Mexican authorities apprehend the drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. It was the third time that the law caught up to El Chapo, a figure whose crimes, influence and mystique rival those of Pablo Escobar. Guzmán became involved in the drug ...read more

President George H.W. Bush vomits on the Prime Minister of Japan

One of the most widely ridiculed and memorable gaffes in the history of the United States Presidency occurred in Japan on the evening of January 8, 1992, when President George H.W. Bush vomits on the Prime Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa was hosting a dinner for ...read more

Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay person elected to public office in California

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, takes his place on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on January 8, 1978. The first and, for years, most visible openly gay politician in America, Milk was a longtime activist and pioneering ...read more

The Battle of New Orleans

Two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, U.S. General Andrew Jackson achieves the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. In September 1814, an impressive American naval victory on Lake Champlain forced ...read more

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords injured in shooting rampage

On January 8, 2011, Gabrielle Giffords, a U.S. congresswoman from Arizona, is critically injured when a man goes on a shooting spree during a constituents meeting held by the congresswoman outside a Tucson-area supermarket. Six people died in the attack and another 13, including ...read more

"Mona Lisa" exhibited in Washington

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, is exhibited for the first time in America. Over 2,000 dignitaries, including President John F. Kennedy, came out that evening to view the famous painting. The next day, the ...read more

Astronomer Galileo dies in Italy

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei dies in Italy at age 77. Born February 15, 1564, Galileo has been referred to as the “father of modern astronomy,” the “father of modern physics” and the “father of science” due to his revolutionary discoveries. The first person to use a ...read more

Allies retreat from Gallipoli

On January 8, 1916, Allied forces stage a full retreat from the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, ending a disastrous invasion of the Ottoman Empire. The Gallipoli Campaign resulted in 250,000 Allied casualties and greatly discredited Allied military command. Roughly ...read more

Crazy Horse fights last battle

On January 8, 1877, Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse and his men—outnumbered, low on ammunition and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves—fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana. Six months earlier, in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, ...read more

Mussolini questions Hitler’s plans

A message from Benito Mussolini is forwarded to Adolf Hitler. In the missive, the Duce cautions the Fuhrer against waging war against Britain. Mussolini asked if it was truly necessary “to risk all-including the regime-and to sacrifice the flower of German generations.” ...read more

This Day In History: Wilson outlines the Fourteen Points

President Wilson delivers "Fourteen Points" speech

The Fourteen Points speech of President Woodrow Wilson was an address delivered before a joint meeting of Congress on January 8, 1918, during which Wilson outlined his vision for a stable, long-lasting peace in Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world following World War I. ...read more

Ragtime wins the National Book Critics Circle Award

On January 8, 1976, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow is awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award. The book deals with race relations in the 1920s, mixing fictional characters with real figures from the era. The book was made into a 1981 movie and a ...read more

Elvis Presley receives his first guitar

In competing versions of the story, what Elvis Presley really wanted for his birthday was a rifle or a bicycle—both fairly typical choices for a boy his age growing up on the outskirts of Tupelo, Mississippi. Instead, Elvis’s highly protective mother, Gladys—”She never let me out ...read more

William Randolph Hearst stops Citizen Kane ads

One of Hollywood’s most famous clashes of the titans–an upstart “boy genius” filmmaker versus a furious 76-year-old newspaper tycoon–heats up on January 8, 1941, when William Randolph Hearst forbids any of his newspapers to run advertisements for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. ...read more

Bugatti brother dies by suicide

On January 8, 1916 Rembrandt Bugatti, a sculptor and younger brother of Italian auto designer and manufacturer Ettore Bugatti, dies by suicide at the age of 31. The Bugatti brothers were born in Milan, Italy; Ettore in 1881 and Rembrandt in 1884. They came from a creative family ...read more