21ST CENTURY GREEN HIGH-PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES ACT -- (House of Representatives - June 04, 2008)
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Mr. DAVIS of Virginia. Madam Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise today to offer an amendment to H.R. 3021 that would allow local education priority consideration for science and technology schools once grant funds reach their State's local educational agencies.
I have traditionally opposed the concept of the Federal Government directly funding school construction and renovation. However, I believe the legislation today provides an excellent opportunity to advance what should be an increasingly prominent component of Federal education policy, active promotion and assistance for rigorous science, math and technology programs at the secondary level.
Science, math and technology schools throughout the country enable students to cultivate a spirit of discovery and innovation. More importantly, they give some of our best and our very brightest the ability to compete with similarly talented students from other countries around the world.
In my district, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is a perfect example of the type of institution we should be promoting nationwide. TJ, as we call it, is part of the Fairfax County public school system, but draws applicants from across five counties and two cities in Northern Virginia, selecting 500 students from a pool of several thousand applicants. While TJ tops the list of U.S. News and World Report's list of America's best high schools, its building and infrastructure is deteriorating and in need of repair. It also needs access to increasingly advanced laboratory facilities to provide cutting edge programs and study.
I appreciate the concerns of my colleagues regarding an expanded Federal role in school construction. I want to note, however, that there can be a role for Congress to play.
One of our congressional accomplishments was closing the Lorton Prison and putting some of that land into the public school system in Fairfax County in which South County High School was built, a public-private partnership.
As we debate added Federal participation in school construction maintenance, I am ready to set aside preexisting qualms to make sure that schools focused on science, math, and technology receive the focus they merit. Make no mistake, these individuals and skills that these students possess will be the foundation of our economy in the coming years. It is in our interest to give them the foundation they will need to excel in a world that is quickly catching up with us.
In closing, I want to thank Chairman Miller and his staff for their willingness to work with me on this issue. I look forward to continuing this effort as this legislation moves forward, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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