One blessing from being quarantined is the additional time I have had to focus on completing my second book—an insider story of how the George W. Bush administration took the Nation’s Report Card from the back rooms of education researchers to main street America. The book will chronicle my six years as executive director of the governing board that oversees and sets policy for the report card.
A draft manuscript is now in hand. It has been fact checked. I’m now working closely with a professional book coach, who has assigned specific tasks to sharpen the focus of the book, to dig deeper into many of the stories being told, and to bring greater clarity to the wording of every chapter.
The book coach has challenged me to develop at least fifteen titles for the book and to draft a brief book jacket statement summarizing the book. For my Facebook friends, here is the draft statement that describes the book (it will probably change many times between now and publication):
“In the winter of 2003, a presidential mandate thrust a dozen dedicated public servants onto the national stage. Their task was to take the Nation’s Report Card, a relatively obscure but highly respected national assessment, to the forefront of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative. They had a steep mountain to climb with much at stake, many obstacles to confront, and little time to accomplish their task. Yet, against all odds, they met their goal, forever changing the way educators, the media, and the general public interpret and use student assessment results.
“The two strangers selected by Bush to fill the top two leadership roles—and the talented, highly motivated staff they inherited—became a close-knit team by building trust, earning respect, and focusing on effective communication. Together they overcame bureaucratic barriers, avoided political interference, and dodged fallout from 9/11, which allowed them to maintain the national assessment as the gold standard of testing and take the story of the Nation’s Report Card nationwide.
“A government initiative that works is the exception to the rule. In those rare moments, the how and why of the inside story begs to be told. With vivid detail, a rich blend of behind-the-scene anecdotes, and never before disclosed official papers, From Backroom to Main Street tells one of those stories.”
We have targeted 2021 for publication to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Nation’s Report Card. As the former executive director of the governing board that sets policy for Report Card and oversees its development, I will be giving the reader a firsthand look at the way it happened, the obstacles along the way, and the lasting results.
Copyright © 2020 Charles E. Smith. All rights reserved.