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Public Statements

Statemetns On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

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Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - March 06, 2007)

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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, one of the most profound economic shifts of the past century has been the entry of women into the workforce in tremendous numbers. In 1900, women made up only 18.4 percent of the working population. Today, more than 46 percent of the workers who claim a paycheck each week are women.

Unfortunately, while America's women are working harder than ever, they are not being fairly compensated for their contributions to our economy.

Discrimination against women continues to be prevalent in the workplace. Women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. In 2004, African-American women earned only 67 percent of the earnings of White men, and Hispanic women earned only 56 percent.

Unfortunately, the problem is not getting better. The current wage gap of 23 cents is the same gap that existed in 2002. Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was passed, the wage gap has narrowed by less than half of a penny a year.

While many argue that this persistent pay gap is a consequence of women's choosing to take time out of the workforce, the evidence shows that other factors, including discrimination, are a significant cause. In 2004, the Census Bureau concluded that the substantial gap in earnings between men and women could not completely be explained by differences in education, tenure in the workforce, or occupation. Similarly, a recent General Accounting Office report concluded that the difference in men and women's working patterns does not explain the entire disparity in their wages. Discrimination plays a significant role as well.

It is appalling and unacceptable that such discrimination still exists in America, and we need to combat it with Federal legislation. The issue is simple fairness, and Congress needs to act.

I am proud to join with Senator Clinton and Senator Harkin in introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act today. This important legislation will give America's working women the tools they need to fight for fair pay. It will make sure our fair pay laws apply to everyone, and it will strengthen the penalties for employers that are not playing by the rules.

These important reforms are long overdue. I urge my colleagues to stand up for working women and end wage discrimination by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

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By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. BURR, Mr. KERRY, and Mr. SANDERS):

S. 778. A bill to amend title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in order to authorize the Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to eligible entities to recruit, select, train, and support Expanded Learning and After-School Fellows that will strengthen expanded learning initiatives, 21st century community learning center programs, and after-school programs, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Teaching Fellows for Expanded Learning and After-School Act to tap the idealism, energy, and talent of 2-year and 4-year college graduates to serve as teaching fellows in our Nation's highest need schools.

The Act will establish a new cadre of talented leaders to establish, expand or improve expanded learning initiatives, 21st century community learning center programs and after-school programs. These programs will build essential academic and youth development skills for all students in targeted grade levels in expanded-day programs. They will also assist teachers during the school day in linking the school curriculum more closely with after school programming.

As we know most Olympic athletes train harder when a gold medal is in sight. Employees work overtime when a business launches a breakthrough product. Communities rally to provide material relief and comfort when natural disasters strike. When success matters most, increased effort is essential for achieving a worthy goal, and that fundamental principle can work in education too.

The time has come for the Nation to go the extra mile to meet our education goals and ensure that all children develop the skills they need to participate fully in our economy and in the civic life of their communities. If students are to learn more--the core premise of the No Child Left Behind Act--they must have more time to meet these expectations.

Teaching Fellows recruited under this bill will receive intensive training by experienced high-quality after-school programs and will serve for two years. The Act will also enable Teaching Fellows to pursue a bachelor's or graduate degree in education, in order to give communities a pipeline of leaders ready for future involvement in education and youth development.

For the most part, reform efforts to date have equated education reform with school reform. As a result our attention has been focused on the 1,000 hours a year children are in school, while largely overlooking the 4,000 hours a year when children are awake and out of school.

Teachers must, of course, remain at the heart of our strategy to improve education. But they need help. We need to expand learning time, involve caring adults in the lives of children, and make learning more relevant and engaging, especially for students who are struggling.

The school calendar today is largely a relic of the agrarian age. It fails to respond to the realities that students must develop new skills for modem needs, and that in most families, parents are working during many of the after-school hours. Fourteen million children come back to empty homes after school. Voters across party lines, demographic groups, and geographic areas have said for 5 consecutive years that they overwhelmingly support after-school programs for all. Police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors overwhelmingly agree that investing in after-school programs is more effective in reducing youth violence and crime than hiring more police officers or stiff penalties. Diverting less than one percent of at-risk youth from a life of crime would save society several times the cost of the after-school programs. It is time for a new learning day to dawn in our country. Our communities and our citizens need to waken to clear call for involvement and investment in this aspect of public education.

The Teaching Fellows for Expanded Learning and After-School Act draws on the impressive experience of after-school programs and schools that have developed, and tested these ideas and shown they can work. The Act is inspired by the Teaching Fellowship Program created by Citizen Schools, a national network of after-school programs with a track record of significant impact on academic achievement. A rigorous, long-term evaluation has shown that such students outperform their peers on six out of seven measures of school success.

The Act also draws on the superb work of LA's BEST and After-School All-Stars, as well as the experience and innovations of other schools and programs across the country.

Under the Act, the Department of Education will make grants to partnerships between local education agencies and strong community organizations, institutions of higher education, and community learning centers. These partnerships will recruit and place Teaching Fellows to work full-time in high-need schools that serve low-income students. Grants from the Department of Education will be at least $15,000 per Fellow annually, so that recipients can recruit, select, train, and support the Fellows. Fellows will also be able to earn a national service education award for each term of service. Partnerships will be required to obtain non-federal matching funds to leverage the federal government's investment and to involve the private sector in expanding these educational opportunities.

Expanded learning time and after-school programs are the new frontier of education reform in America. Teaching Fellows recruited under the Act will complement the outstanding efforts of classroom teachers and infuse new energy, talent, and idealism in the after-school sector. They will also be an essential resource for the nation's parents, encouraging students to understand their potential and helping them to see the true promise of the American Dream.

This bill is supported by thirty-seven groups representing education and after-school communities. I ask unanimous consent that their letters of support be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the letters were ordered to be printed in the RECORD

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