By Jeanne Allen
September 10, 2011
Everyone has a story about what was happening ten years ago, on that originally beautiful morning that soon turned into the nightmare we now know as September 11, 2001. I was watching live coverage of then President George W. Bush, who sat in a public school classroom in Florida, as he sought to mobilize people behind a consensus that our school crisis needed a major national initiative to ensure accountability for results at an unprecedented level. After the tap on the shoulder from his chief of staff, the news people interrupted and the rest, as they say, is history. Weeks later, Bush would begin anew with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, House education chair John Boehner, house education ranking member George Miller and others as they forged a new consensus that money without strings, and without a requirement for student results, would no longer be the way our government conducted business.
As No Child Left Behind took hold over many contentious days and nights of negotiation, eventually, and in large part owing to the new found camaraderie that sprang out of the tragedy of 9/11, a new law was born. Despite its many detractors and some flaws, NCLB then, as now, continues to shine sun on an outrage that should upset the American public at its core, on a regular basis. That outrage – that fewer than half of all U.S. children are not proficient in basic, needed elements of education, and that children of color lag by another 30 percent – is something that we should approach not much differently than as if a foreign power was attacking us right here on our own soil.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we were reminded that generations of students lack a fundamental understanding of history. Evil acts aside,