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Public Statements

Student Success Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the Chairman very much. I am reminded in my amendment of the high calling of Chairman Miller and President Bush some many years ago with the name Leave No Child Behind.

My amendment could be called ``Throw No Child Away'' or ``No Child is a Throwaway,'' for that is the necessity of where we are today with the underlying bill. We must restore and help those children who are considered throughout America as at-risk children.

Research shows that a disproportionate number of schools with predominantly low-income African American and Hispanic students have low housing stability and that such students are more likely than others to switch schools in the middle of the year. High student mobility has consequences for students, teachers, and schools, and could result in lower achievement levels, slower academic pacing, and lower teaching satisfaction.

My amendment expands that concept; and it indicates that States with insufficient funding should find a way to target funds for schools serving neglected, delinquent, migrant students, English learners, at-risk students, and Native Americans to increase academic achievement of such students, all with the idea that there are no throwaway children.

Children and education are one and the same. That is the work of children. When children are at work and are fully educated--and when I say that, at their work, a combination of education and play--what you create is a greater America.

Poor families, for example, move 50-100 percent more often than nonpoor families. Migrant children typically move from community to community. Foster children often change schools each time they're removed from a home. Right now, as I speak, we in Houston are trying to establish one of those homes for aged-out children who are still in high school who've aged out of foster care.

Those children typically are at risk. We can't shortchange them, as the underlying legislation does.

Student mobility has consequences with students and teachers and, therefore, we need to help build higher achievement levels because there is a possibility of lower achievement levels, lower academic pacing, and lower teacher satisfaction.

Take the school district that I represent, HISD, 200,000 students, 80 percent of which are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. Children can not learn if they are hungry.

HISD has a diverse population. But, 100 of the largest districts represent less than 1 percent of all school districts in the Nation. Yet it enrolls 21 percent of all students, including 25 percent of census poverty students, 33 percent of Black students, 32 percent of Hispanic, and 31 percent of all minority students.

But the real point is that, in addition to these large school districts, this amendment respects the rural communities of America and deals with at-risk children in those areas, and deals with migrant students in those areas, and indicates that a State should not shortchange those individuals if their grant money is, in fact, shortchanged. Don't shortchange the children. Again, there are no throwaways.

So I think my amendment balances great needs in the underlying legislation by saying to my colleagues that the understanding of education is that it should be equal to all. And the quality should be equal to all, and therefore, whether you are a student that moves frequently, or a migrant student, or an English-learner student, you should not be denied an excellent education.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentleman for his expression on this particular amendment. Let me frame it, as I close, thanking my colleagues and expressing my commitment to the concept that no child should be thrown away.

With formulas changing, block grants being promoted, the idea of a State being shortchanged in its awards means that there needs to be focus and refocus, and that is, from my perspective, to look at those children, whether they're rural or urban communities that need to be educated who could be considered neglected, delinquent, migrant students, English-learners, at-risk students, Native American youth, and to determine again, to find a way to focus those dollars in a way that will lift, in essence, all educational boats.

Sometimes that will be an enormous challenge, as this formula has evidenced. And I would like to see that no matter what happens in the underlying bill, that we have these children protected, many of whom are in the school districts that I represent, including formerly the North Forest Independent School District, that could have benefited from those resources, having given to them a number of rural school districts in Texas that could have benefited from targeted dollars, to be able to keep them as existing viable school districts, teaching their children, not closed school districts.

So I hope that as we proceed that the message that comes, ultimately, from Members of Congress is that we promote education first, and the children at risk will never be lost in the debate, but we'll always support them.

I ask my colleagues to support the Jackson Lee amendment.

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