Friday, March 6, 2009

Secretary Duncan: "No Child Left Behind" in Need of Reform, Rebranding

In an NPR radio interview, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the No Child Left Behind Act has become "toxic" -- that it's in need of proper funding, reform, AND a new name.

"We are putting dramatic money behind our children, which didn’t happen before, it was largely underfunded," he said. "But in this [stimulus] package there are over $10 billion in additional money for children in poverty, Title 1 dollars, over $10 billion through IDEA [Individuals With Disabilities Education Act]....We want to be much less punitive and reward excellence and really again spotlight those schools and those districts that are beating the odds every single day."

As for the program name itself, he said, "I think it ultimately has to be rebranded. 'No Child Left Behind' has become toxic. And we need to come up with something that’s much more inspiring, something that appeals to the best of us rather than pulls us down."

As a communications professional, I understand the value of rebranding. But Secretary Duncan's remarks reminded me of another rebranding that was recently in the news -- Blackwater, the notorious military contractor, is changing its name to "Xe." Same company, different name. Will it make a difference? If you're interested, this Newsweek article examines Blackwater's decision and the experience of Altria (the company formerly known as Philip Morris) and other rebranded corporations.
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