Senators Kennedy, Clinton, Brown and Sanders co-sponsor bill to increase graduation rates and employment opportunities for students across the country
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) unveiled a major legislative proposal to help state and regional leaders increase graduation rates and prepare America's next generation of highly skilled workers. The Promoting Innovations to 21st Century Careers Act establishes a federal grant program to support state efforts to help young adults transition from high school to post-secondary education and on to the high-paying careers of the future. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, Senator Murray held hearings and forums with education, workforce, business and labor experts in preparation for the introduction of today's bill. Murray also sat down with high school students across her home state of Washington to hear what kind of support they feel is needed to help them succeed in both school and the workforce.
Senator Murray was joined in introducing the bill by co-sponsors and fellow members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).
"In America we know that the future strength of our country lies in the hands of our children. They are the future of our industries, our economy and our status in the world. But right now that future is at a crossroads. Drop-out rates are up, unemployment is up and the high-wage, high-skilled jobs of the future are going unfilled. Now is the time to work together to find new solutions that will not only benefit both our kids and our schools but also our economy in the long-run," Senator Murray said today. "That's why I have brought together experts from across the spectrum to come up with a plan that provides incentives for states to invest in new ways to help our kids and economy succeed. As education becomes part of the national dialogue again, I am hopeful that we will talk seriously about the new partnerships and innovative ideas that we are proposing in my bill to make education work for our kids, our businesses and our future."
Melissa Wagoner, spokeswoman for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said, "Senator Kennedy applauds Senator Murray for her leadership to improve school and work opportunities for the millions of young adults that are currently unemployed and to ensure that our nation's youth are being prepared to be strong players in this economy. The Senator will continue to work with Senator Murray to make this a top priority in Congress."
"This legislation will help ensure that we continue to prepare our young people for the highly-skilled jobs that are key to success in an ever-changing global economy. I am pleased to work with Senator Murray and others to take this important step that will benefit students in New York and across the country," said Senator Clinton.
"We need to match emerging industries with well-trained workers," said Senator Brown. "A skilled workforce is critical to our future economic competitiveness. Partnerships among business, labor, and the education community will connect workers with the jobs of tomorrow. I am proud to join Senator Murray in this effort."
"It is essential that we focus on helping our nation's young people get the preparation and skills they need to enter into well-paying careers" said Senator Sanders. "This legislation is a major step in that direction. It will help a new generation of Americans to find and hold good jobs."
The Promoting Innovations to 21st Century Careers Act helps address critical education and workforce needs with:
* New Resources - Establishes $912 million in federal grants that can be used by state and regional partnerships to help students move from high school, to a wide array of post-secondary education options, to skilled careers.
* Strong Partnerships - Requires state and regional partnerships applying for funding to include representatives from high schools, post-secondary education, businesses, labor, workforce, and economic development.
* Supporting Innovations - Encourages state and regional partnerships to develop career pathways for high school students that include counseling, mentoring, work-based experiences, and assistance in obtaining degrees, apprenticeships, and other postsecondary credentials.
* Real Accountability -Incorporates measures to evaluate success of state and regional efforts including reports to Congress.