Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Susan M. Benner

Committee Members

Amos Hatch, Gina Barclay-McLaughlin, Benita Howell


The No Child Left: Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, was proposed by President George W. Bush in January 2001, debated by the 107th Congress of the United States throughout the following spring, and signed into law on January 8, 2002. The need for reform was predicated on the belief that there was a crisis in education and that our schools were failing to adequately prepare children to succeed and compete on a global level. Reading was singled out as a particular area of concern that the new legislation would address. This qualitative study sought to discover how the Bush administration impacted education - specifically early childhood education - through a new education policy and what role ideologies played in mandating specific requirements within the legislation. The data for this study included Presidential speeches and position papers, and the transcripts of the NCLB debates in both houses of Congress. Three cornerstone issues were selected from the results for discussion: testing, failure, and parent involvement, with cultural deficit theories providing the theoretical foundation for the study. Analysis of the discourse revealed that the President and his ideological beliefs did influence the direction and substance of the reform effort as evidenced by his two proposed early childhood reading programs included in the final bill. Conservative ideologies, both radical and centrist, were the basis for specific requirements in the areas of accountability, standards of excellence, and testing.

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