Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate since 1962, is one of the authors of the No Child Left Behind Act. This excerpt is from a speech he delivered at Boston Latin School on January 8, 2002, in which he introduced the President to the audience and offered his own views on education reform.
The revolutionary idea that every child in America should have the opportunity for a good public education was born long before the American Revolution. It was born here in Boston in 1635, at Boston Latin, the nation's oldest public school. Our earliest leaders understood that education is the cornerstone of the community, and the key to fulfillment and success for future generations. And now, over three and a half centuries later, 53 million children across the nation rely on public schools for their learning and their future.
We're proud that Massachusetts in this new century continues to be a leader on public education. We're proud that Massachusetts sets high standards for our public schools. We're proud that our students rank first in the nation in science achievement, and that three-quarters of Massachusetts school children go on to college. We're proud that we now rank very high in the nation in access to computers in our schools.
But we all know we must do better. Parents need a greater voice in their children's education. Teachers need more support and training to meet modern challenges. Communities need help to hold their schools accountable for results. And most of all, children need us to do everything we can to help them learn and shape a better, brighter, and fairer future.
So we came together in Congress over the past year—Democrats and Republicans—to work closely and effectively with the President to give teachers and schools and parents new ways and better ways to enable all students to succeed.
Under the legislation signed into law today, students doing well will do better. Students in failing schools will get the help they long have needed. All schools will improve, and all students will improve—and so will America.