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WASHINGTON, DC— Late last night, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the SenateHealth, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement on thepassage by the United States Senate of the America COMPETES Act, which invests ineducation, especially in math, science, engineering, and technology, creates a President’sCouncil to encourage innovation, and doubles the support for research at the Department ofEnergy and the National Science Foundation for the next seven years. Senator Kennedy said, “The America COMPETES bill takes needed steps to create a strongerAmerica in the global economy. Greater investments in education, research and innovationare essential for meeting the challenges of this new century. The nation has done it before,and we can do it again.” (As Prepared for Delivery) Our increasingly global economy is creating numerous challenges for America’s familiesnationwide. Across the country, hardworking citizens are being left behind. The value of theirwages is declining, their cost of living is going up, and many of their jobs are being shippedoverseas. As a result, the nation is falling behind in the world economy. Study after study tells us theanswer is to invest more in education, research and innovation, if we hope to keep up withother countries whose economies are soaring. We know that a sound education is more important than ever for today’s youth to succeed.Yet studies show, for example, that 15-year-old U.S. students score below average in mathand science compared to the youth of other industrial nations. In one study, our 15 year oldsranked only 24th in math. High school and college graduation rates are also falling behind.Our college graduation rate today has now dropped below the average graduation rate forOECD countries. We know that federal investments in research lead to medical, scientific, and technologybreakthroughs. But these investments have been shrinking as a share of the economy. In realterms, government spending for research has been flat. Since 1975, we’ve dropped from 3rdto 15th in the production of scientists and engineers. It’s a serious problem and we can’t just tinker at the margins. We have a responsibility to ourpeople, our economy, our security, and our nation to make the investments to achieve theprogress we need in the years ahead. The America COMPETES Act is a step in the right direction. It will help put America back ontrack. It invests in research, by doubling the support for research at the Department of Energy andthe National Science Foundation over the next 7 years, and will increase funding for theNational Institute of Standards and Technology as well. It invests in innovation, by creating a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitivenessto determine the most effective ways to create jobs and move our economy forward.Above all, it will invest in education, especially in math and science, engineering, andtechnology from the elementary school through high school and beyond, in order to attractmore young people to pursue careers in these fields in the years ahead. The problem today is especially serious for our low-income and minority students. Teachersare the single most important factor in improving student achievement and narrowing theachievement gap. One study found that having a high quality teacher for five years in a rowcan close the average 7th grade achievement gap in math between lower income and higherincome children. Yet too often, low-income and minority students are taught by the leastprepared, least experienced, and least qualified teachers. Math and science classes in highpovertyschools are much more likely to be taught by teachers who do not have a degree intheir field. We know what we need to do, and this bill will help us do it. We must make sure all studentsare getting the teachers they need and deserve in the subjects that matter most in the neweconomy. This bill addresses the teacher challenge head on by taking strong steps to ensure that allchildren have access to a high quality teacher with strong content knowledge in math, science,engineering and technology – particularly in high need schools, where such teachers areneeded most. The bill expands the Robert Noyce Teacher Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF)by creating a new NSF Teaching Fellows program to prepare accomplished math, science,technology and engineering professionals to teach in high need schools. It also creates aMaster Teaching Fellows program to leverage the talents of the best teachers to improveinstruction in high need schools. Teaching Fellows in the program will receive annual salarysupplements of $10,000 a year in exchange for a commitment to teach for at least four yearsin a high need school. The bill also expands the Teacher Institutes for the 21st Century Program at NSF, whichprovides cutting-edge professional development programs throughout the school year andduring the summer for teachers in high-need schools. In addition, the bill supports impressive new programs in colleges and universities to preparemath, science, technology, engineering and foreign language teachers. These programs willcombine bachelor’s degrees with concurrent teacher certification in their subjects, and willcreate master’s degree programs for teachers to improve their knowledge in these subjectsand to encourage math and science professionals to go into teaching. Too often today, elementary and secondary school standards are not aligned with theexpectations of colleges and employers. In many cases, high school graduates are strugglingto keep up in college and the workplace. Remedial education and lost earning potential costthe nation 3.7 billion a year, because so many students are not adequately prepared forcollege when they leave high school. Our bill will help states align their standards with the demands of the 21st century workplace.Grants to states to create P-16 Councils will bring the elementary and secondary schools,college, businesses, and the Armed Forces together to ensure that education standards arebetter aligned with the expectations of colleges, the workforce, and the military. Thisalignment is essential if we hope to remain internationally competitive. Support will also beavailable for new data systems in states to track students’ achievement and help themgraduate prepared to succeed. The bill will help give students in low-income districts the same opportunities as those inwealthier districts to enroll and succeed in college preparatory classes, by expanding access toAdvanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. This bill invests as well in foreign language education, to ensure that students are exposed toforeign languages and cultures. More than 80 Federal agencies now use tens of thousands ofemployees with skills in 100 foreign languages, and our businesses need the same. For students to become proficient in foreign languages, they need sustained study, beginningin the early grades. But only a third of students in grades 7 through 12 today and only 5percent of elementary school students study a foreign language. The bill provides grants tocolleges and local educational agencies to create partnerships for students from elementaryschool through college to study such languages. Finally, the bill will encourage new interest in nuclear science. Massachusetts has long been aleader in this research. Of three dozen licensed research reactors in the United States, threeare located in Massachusetts universities – The University of Massachusetts in Lowell,Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and MIT. These colleges will have an increasingly importantrole as nuclear science expands, and our bill will expand existing programs and establish newones to meet the growing demand. All of these programs and investments are designed to help prepare us to compete in the 21stcentury, but there is more we must do if we intend to keep our nation and our workforce trulycompetitive. Significant new investments are needed to expand opportunities for highereducation. College is more important than ever today, but it is also more expensive than ever. In the Senate two weeks ago, we passed the largest increase in student aid since the G.I. Bill,and I look forward to delivering that aid for low-income students as quickly as possible.We must also address the increasingly demanding impact of the global economy on Americanworkers and their families. Our hard-working men and women deserve greater job securitytoday and greater job opportunities in the future. This bill puts first things first. Increased investments in education, research, and innovationare indispensable to our success as a nation. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.Let’s begin with this bill. ###