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Kennedy, Colleagues Work to Keep America Competitive in Global Economy Introduce New National Defense Education Act to Modernize American Education

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Location: Washington, DC


KENNEDY, COLLEAGUES WORK TO KEEP AMERICA COMPETITIVE IN GLOBAL ECONOMY INTRODUCE NEW NATIONAL DEFENSE EDUCATION ACT TO MODERNIZE AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM, EXPAND COLLEGE ACCESS, AND EQUIP WORKERS WITH 21st CENTURY SKILLS

Today, Senators Edward M. Kennedy, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton introduced the New National Defense Education Act to keep America competitive in our rapidly shrinking global economy. The New NDEA will ensure education standards are internationally competitive, strengthen math and science teaching and education, expand college access and encourage the study of math, science, and critical need foreign languages, and improve job training for those currently in the workforce.

"Our country is home to the greatest universities in the world, and our education system has produced the world's leading teachers, scientists, writers, musicians, and inventors. We cannot let these achievements stall," Senator Kennedy said, "We have to put first things first, and give children, parents, schools, communities and states the support they need to re-fuel the amazing engine of education and keep our country great in the years ahead."

"America largely created the global economy, and we have to change the way we do things if we are going to maintain our position in it. And the only way we are going to do that and remain competitive in the world is by investing in our students and our teachers," said John Kerry.

"This bill will help America continue to lead the world in technology and innovation," said Senator Clinton. "It lays the groundwork for a new generation of American prosperity and security. It invests in teachers, encourages states to raise academic standards, promotes math, science, and critical foreign language education, and helps make college a reality for more children."

The New National Defense Education Act modernizes our education system and equips Americans with twenty-first century knowledge and skills by:

• Providing incentives and resources for States and schools to develop and implement more rigorous standards in math, science and reading; to upgrade laboratory facilities; and to create PreK-16 Readiness Councils to ensure student learning is aligned with the demands of college, the 21st century workforce, and the Armed Services;

• Providing grants and incentives and to recruit and retain highly qualified math, science, and critical-need foreign language teachers to teach in high poverty schools;

• Significantly increasing investment in education programs at the National Science Foundation;

• Creating a program that guarantees students that if they work hard and get into college, their unmet need will be met through additional state and federal aid;

• Making college and graduate school tuition free for low-income students studying math, science, technology, engineering, or critical need foreign languages;

• Expanding access and exposure to critical-need foreign language education from the early grades through graduate school; and

• Providing competitive grants for job training to support innovative strategies to meet emerging labor market needs.

Below is Senator Kennedy's floor statement on the NDEA: STATEMENT BY SENATOR KENNEDY ON THE NEW NATIONAL DEFENSE EDUCATION ACT (AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY) Mr. President, American families face great challenges in dealing with the rapidly changing global economy. The value of their wages is declining, the cost of living is going up, and many jobs are moving overseas. More and more Americans feel the American dream is slowly slipping out of reach. We can and must deal more effectively with this problem. We have a responsibility to make the investments that are necessary to our progress - a responsibility to our families, to our economy, to our nation, and even to our national security. We can guarantee America's continuing prosperity in the future, but we must work for it. We must sacrifice for it. The rest of the world is playing for keeps. We cannot just tinker at the margins if we expect to continue to be a leader in this rapidly shrinking world. We must ensure that our citizens can achieve the American dream once again. To do so, our highest priority must be a world class education for every American. We must make the American employee and employer the best educated, best trained, and most capable in the world. We need to strengthen the capacities of every person in the nation. This isn't just my opinion. In recent years, study after study has emphasized education as the solution to keeping America competitive in the years to come. Last year, the Council on Competitiveness urged a focus on lifelong skill development - through elementary, secondary and higher education, and through training and workforce support, as essential to keeping America on the cutting edge of innovation. A recent National Academy of Sciences report contains these recommendations. Two of the report's four major recommendations state that education is the solution to meeting the global challenge. The National Association of Manufacturers has also issued a report urging a renewed focus on education and training to keep American businesses competitive. Other industrialized countries are embracing education as the key to competing in this new economy, but America is slipping behind. We rank 28th out of 40 nations in math education. We were third in the world in 1975 in the production of new scientists and engineers, but now we rank 15th. By 2008, six million U.S. jobs will go unfilled because our workforce will not be qualified to fill them. These shortcomings threaten both our economic security and our national security.

The last time America was shocked into realizing we were unacceptably behind in math and science was in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. To meet that crisis, Republican President Eisenhower worked closely with a Democratic Congress to pass the National Defense Education Act. The new law declared a national "education emergency," and we doubled the federal investment in education virtually overnight. Today I join with my colleagues, Senator Clinton and Senator Kerry, to introduce a new National Defense Education Act for our own day and generation. To respond to this major challenge, we must ensure our education standards are internationally competitive, so that our high school graduates can succeed in the new economy. We must make a commitment to all students - regardless of the studies they choose to pursue - that cost will not be a barrier to a college degree. We must strengthen math and science education in this country by making college free for s s tudents training to become math or science teachers in high need schools. Our New National Defense Education Act responds to each of these imperatives. It modernizes our education system and equips Americans with twenty-first century knowledge and skills. It provides incentives and resources for schools to develop and implement more rigorous standards in math, science and reading.

The legislation updates the nation's report card - the National Assessment of Educational Progress - to ensure that it sets a national benchmark which is internationally competitive and is aligned with the demands of the 21st century global economy. It expands our ability to monitor science achievement. It requires the NAEP to measure student preparedness to enter college, the 21st century workforce, or the Armed Services. It also requires the Secretary of Education to examine the gaps in student performance on state-level assessments and NAEP assessments, and to assist states in understanding those gaps. It provides critical resources to states to create PreK-16 Preparedness Councils to help them with their efforts to improve state standards and ensure that they are aligned with the expectations of colleges, employers, and the Armed Services. It also provides funding to states working in collaboration to establish common standards and assessments.

The New NDEA also directs resources to high need schools, to enable them to invest in math, science, engineering and technology textbooks and laboratories, and give their students equal access to a curriculum that will provide the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century global economy. The legislation recognizes the critical role of the National Science Foundation in ensuring our children have access to cutting-edge science and technology programs, by doubling the investment in elementary, secondary and postsecondary education programs at NSF. The New NDEA also helps open the doors of college to all by creating the "Contract for Educational Opportunity" grant program, or "CEO Grants," which guarantee students that if they work hard and are admitted to college, their financial need will be met through additional state and federal financial aid.

The legislation also offers additional grants to make college tuition free for low- and middle-income students studying science, technology, engineering or math, as well as critical-need foreign languages.

The bill provides larger grants to students studying to become teachers in these fields who agree to work in a high poverty school for at least 4 years. It also provides teachers with tax credits, increased loan forgiveness and additional incentives to continue to teach where they are needed the most. It provides grants to institutions of higher education to develop innovative programs for recruiting and training new teachers, and invests in teacher training programs to support their continuing education.

The bill recognizes that it is increasingly important for students to be exposed to other languages and cultures. In recent years, foreign language needs have significantly increased throughout the public and private sector because of the wider range of security threats, the emergence of new nation states, and the globalization of the U.S. economy. American businesses increasingly need employees experienced in foreign languages and international cultures to manage a culturally diverse workforce. The New NDEA responds to these needs by providing grants for elementary and secondary critical-need language programs, summer institutes to improve teachers' knowledge and instruction of foreign languages and international content, and study abroad and foreign language study opportunities for high school students, and undergraduate and graduate students. The New NDEA also continues to invest in our current workforce. The bill builds on existing formula funds for job training with competitive grants to support innovative strategies to meet emerging labor market needs. From our earliest days as a nation, education has been the engine of the American dream. Our country is home to the greatest universities in the world, and our education system has produced the world's leading teachers, scientists, writers, musicians, and inventors. We cannot let these achievements stall. Slogans are not enough. We have to put first things first, and give children, parents, schools, communities and states the support they need to re-fuel the amazing engine of education and keep our country great in the years ahead.

I urge my colleagues to join us in making this strong new commitment to securing our nation's future by supporting the New National Defense Education Act.

http://kerry.senate.gov/v3/cfm/record.cfm?id=257388

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