Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman says No Child Left Behind is a law with great ideals and horrible implementation.
He says too often the prescription for struggling schools was sanctions, instead of assistance, he says that's like beating someone until their morale improves.
"That's not how human nature works, that's not how things work in education. That's not how we treat children," Sherman says.
Fairfax County's public school system has long been singled out as one of the nation's finest, and in the decade since the passage of No Child Left Behind, that didn't change.
But Fairfax School Board member Stu Gibson says he and his colleagues often feel the landmark legislation is holding the school district back
"Well, when you only emphasize reading and math, you shouldn't be surprised when we don't have the time and the ability to teach everything we need to do on science," he says.
Both Sherman and Gibson say they hope a rewritten law has less reliance on one-day, high-stakes, machine graded tests.
Obama spoke about the law in Northern Virginia Monday, a move described in an NPR blog post as more than just an opportunity to highlight education: "It's also Obama trying to get across his message that he's not the Washington-supremacist his political opponents have framed him as."