03.08.16

Murray Highlights Progress That is Needed in Education, Worker Protections, Immigration Reform, Supreme Court for Latino Community

Senators Murray and Alexander were honored at the 29th Annual National Council of La Raza Capital Awards for their bipartisan work to fix the broken No Child Left Behind law

 

In her acceptance remarks, Murray called for progress on higher education access, worker protections, immigration reform, and for the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s executive action on DAPA and DACA

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, accepted an award from the National Council of La Raza for her work on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new law to fix No Child Left Behind. Senator Murray fought to include important civil rights provisions in ESSA to ensure all students have access to a quality education. The law also includes measures to hold states accountable for providing effective English language programs for English learners. In her remarks, Murray highlighted the importance of college access and affordability for DREAMers and strengthening worker protections. Murray also urged the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s executive actions on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs in the case United States v. Texas, which currently blocks implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA.  

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“We, as a country, cannot rest until everyone who calls America home has the chance to get a good education, the chance to work hard and raise a family, and the chance to live out the American Dream. And that’s why we worked last year to uphold ESEA’s legacy as a civil rights law. The fact is, we know what happens when we don’t hold our schools and states accountable for educating all students. Invariably, it’s the kids from poor neighborhoods, kids of color, kids who are learning English, and kids with disabilities who too often fall through the cracks. Our new law will make sure that schools work to close persistent achievement gaps that affect these students. And, we will hold states and school districts accountable for providing effective English language programs. I’m proud that for the first time, accountability for English proficiency won’t be a separate system.”

 

“We cannot rest until our country works for all Americans, not just the wealthiest few. Right now – in the 21st century – women are paid less than their male counterparts. In fact, Latinas are paid just 56 cents for every dollar that their white counterparts earn. That’s unacceptable. It’s time women get equal pay for equal work. And there’s much more we can do to strengthen worker protections – from raising the minimum wage, to guaranteeing paid sick days, to making sure workers who put in more than 40 hours a week get the overtime pay they deserve. And, we cannot rest until all families who call America home can build a stable life and thrive.”

 

“This year, the Supreme Court will make a ruling on President Obama’s executive actions on DACA and DAPA. That will be a momentous decision for so many families in our country. In 2013, I met a young woman named Ilse. Her mother brought her to the United States when she was just six months old. She waited for 15 years on her petition for a visa. But she lost the chance to gain legal residency when she turned 21. Thanks to the President’s action on DACA, she had a second chance. Ilse was able to go to school and become a nurse. And now she is building a stable life in Washington state – her home. I can’t imagine our country slamming the door shut – again – on her and her future. In fact, I can’t imagine an America without people like Ilse who want to work hard and build a better life for themselves and their families. It’s time for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of children and families. And it’s time for Congress to finally fix this system and adopt comprehensive immigration reform. We need to get this done for families, for our economy, and for our middle class.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you so much for that generous introduction.

 

“Janet and Renata, I want to thank you for your incredible leadership of this organization. And thank you and the rest of your team for your tireless work to improve our education bill and get it over the finish line.  

 

“I am honored to receive this award. And I am even more honored to be here with all of you tonight.

 

“A half century ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – or ESEA. When he was younger, President Johnson took a year off from college to teach school in a small border town in Texas. He said every student at his school was Mexican-American and came from a low-income background. The school didn’t have a school bus. And President Johnson remembered using his first paycheck to buy volleyballs and softball bats so the kids could have playground equipment. He said he’d never forget the faces of the boys and girls at that school, knowing they likely wouldn’t go to college because they were simply too poor.

 

“President Johnson later recalled that this was the moment he realized that, ‘this Nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.’

 

“He was right. We, as a country, cannot rest until everyone who calls America home has the chance to get a good education, the chance to work hard and raise a family, and the chance to live out the American Dream. That’s what drives your work. That’s what keeps me going every day in the U.S. Senate. And that’s why we worked last year to uphold ESEA’s legacy as a civil rights law.  

“I want to recognize the members who helped us get our bill over the finish line: Ranking Member of the House Ed and Workforce Committee, Bobby Scott, as well as Chairman John Kline and Chairman Lamar Alexander.

 

“From the outset, Chairman Alexander and I knew we were not going to agree on everything. But instead of going down a partisan path and letting politics get in the way, we agreed to work together to find common ground. And throughout the legislative process, I fought to make sure we hold states, schools – and ourselves – accountable for providing a quality education to every child.

 

“The fact is, we know what happens when we don’t hold our schools and states accountable for educating all students. Invariably, it’s the kids from poor neighborhoods, kids of color, kids who are learning English, and kids with disabilities who too often fall through the cracks.

 

“Our new law will make sure that schools work to close persistent achievement gaps that affect these students. And, we will hold states and school districts accountable for providing effective English language programs.

 

“I’m proud that for the first time, accountability for English proficiency won’t be a separate system. It will be a crucial piece of holding states accountable for educating every student. 

 

“But our work is not complete. We cannot rest until states and local school districts implement this law in a way that works for all students. It’s so important that NCLR stays involved at the local level to hold schools and states’ feet to the fire to ensure that every student can succeed.

 

“As proud as I am of our work on this law, we need to make progress on many more issues facing our country so every American has the chance to get ahead. We cannot rest until all students can pursue higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

 

“That’s why I’ve introduced a bill that would help more DREAMers benefit from in-state tuition and state financial aid. Washington state has led the way on this, but it’s time for the rest of the country to follow suit. Last year, I heard from a student named Paul. When he was very young, he moved to the U.S. to join his father who had come here in search of a better life. Now, Paul goes to Gonzaga University in my home state. He said that state aid is the only reason he can stay in school to finish his degree. Paul, like so many undocumented students, is no different than any of his classmates. And he deserves an equal chance to go to college and start a successful career in the country he calls home. 

 

“We cannot rest until our country works for all Americans, not just the wealthiest few. Right now – in the 21st century – women are paid less than their male counterparts. In fact, Latinas are paid just 56 cents for every dollar that their white counterparts earn. That’s unacceptable. It’s time women get equal pay for equal work. And there’s much more we can do to strengthen worker protections – from raising the minimum wage, to guaranteeing paid sick days, to making sure workers who put in more than 40 hours a week get the overtime pay they deserve.

 

“And, we cannot rest until all families who call America home can build a stable life and thrive.

 

“This year, the Supreme Court will make a ruling on President Obama’s executive actions on DACA and DAPA. That will be a momentous decision for so many families in our country. In 2013, I met a young woman named Ilse. Her mother brought her to the United States when she was just six months old. She waited for 15 years on her petition for a visa. But she lost the chance to gain legal residency when she turned 21. Thanks to the President’s action on DACA, she had a second chance. Ilse was able to go to school and become a nurse. And now she is building a stable life in Washington state – her home. I can’t imagine our country slamming the door shut – again – on her and her future. In fact, I can’t imagine an America without people like Ilse who want to work hard and build a better life for themselves and their families.

 

“It’s time for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of children and families. And it’s time for Congress to finally fix this system and adopt comprehensive immigration reform. We need to get this done for families, for our economy, and for our middle class.

 

“So, we have major challenges before us. In Congress, Republicans and Democrats don’t always see eye to eye. But people like Paul and Ilse, and students and families across the country – they are looking to Congress to create solutions. To work every day to forge common ground. To work on their behalf. In many cases, their lives and futures depend on it. And so does the future of our country.

 

“So, we cannot rest. I won’t. I know NCLR won’t. And together, we will build a stronger country, we’ll build our economy in the way we know is strongest: from the middle out, not the top down, and we’ll give more people the chance to live out the American dream.

 

“Thank you so much for this honor.”