It's been 12 years since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted by George W. Bush. The formal language of the act tells us that within 12 years, 100% of children need to be at a grade specific proficiency level. With government funding and encouragement, all states were ordered to follow certain guidelines to ensure that children everywhere would be proficient. It's been 12 years, and this goal still has not been achieved. Many of the creators of this law anticipated that the goals would not be reached, but the question must be asked: was it a reasonable goal, and it did it provide the proper incentives to help schools achieve it? Realistically, I think we can say that the answer is "No, it did not give proper incentives." All along, critics of the act stated that the act was aimed at giving punishments (such as reorganization or closures) to those schools that didn't reach the goals, but provided very little reward for those who did reach their goals. Since public schools funding is about 12% from the government, this is not surprising. Additionally, the environment created by the pressure of the act was too great: schools gave more and more tests to prepare students to take the state tests. They focused more resources on students who were just below passing, to the detriment of both higher and lower achievers. They classified more students as disabled to get them out of taking the tests. All in all, they did a poor job of really helping students, and worried more about the sanctions that might affect them. Moving forward past the era of No Child Left Behind, what can we do to ensure that all children are given equal access to good education? Teachers can't solve the social ills hindering the students they teach, or motivate the parents to give a damn. Teachers however, are responsible to stop assuming minority students can't succeed because they are minorities. What teachers cannot prevent, however, are the systems in place above them keeping them from doing more to help the students that are struggling. And that, I believe, is where we need to begin.