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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




S. 3184. A bill to make grants to States to implement statewide portal initiatives, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, we must do all we can to ensure that our young people have the skills necessary to compete in today's global economy. My home State of Massachusetts has done an outstanding job ensuring that educators have access to the high-quality tools necessary to adequately prepare our students for the future. In particular, they have been one of a handful of pioneering states that have created a statewide, online education ``portal'', which is a suite of web-based tools that enhance the teaching and learning experience for teachers, parents, and students.

Education portals are a one-stop resource for educators, parents, and students to support teaching and learning, as well as leadership skills. Portals provide access to shared resources and create an entry point to other information and services including: lesson plans; research-based training resources; model classroom examples; engaging interactive media; listservs; and after-school resources. Among other things, a portal allows educators to quickly search for lesson plans or other resources by content standard, grade level, specific student and classroom needs, and/or topic. It also provides a secure, on-line community for educators to collaborate and discuss teaching and learning experiences, as well as providing a vital communication tool between the school and parents.

It is for these reasons, I am sponsoring legislation to help my State and others secure the funding they need to improve their education systems and prepare their students for success. While it is true that Congress has done a lot to promote education technology and set higher standards for teachers, more must be done to address the divide that afflicts so many of our rural and urban schools.

What is missing is a funding source for states to develop and maintain web-based tools for training, communication, collaboration, and curriculum planning. The Empowering Teaching and Learning Through Education Portals Act establishes annual competitive grants that will provide funding on a one-to-one basis for states that wish to implement and maintain best-practice education portals. The legislation also provides new tax incentives to private organizations that support State education portal efforts.

The Empowering Teaching and Learning Through Education Portals Act bridges the urban-rural digital divide by ensuring that all districts have access to the best available resources. It supports high quality teaching, professional development and retention of teachers and promotes an on-line support network and learning community for teachers and administrators. Furthermore, it provides teacher coaching and guidance in order to address the challenges of teaching a diverse student body, and collaborate on winning strategies to address various learning styles, needs, and achievement levels. It offers administrators tools to securely communicate and collaborate with district personnel, as well as with the Department of Education, and gives them access to formative assessments and other resources. Finally, it provides a means to actively engage students in a rich, relevant, multimedia environment that results in improved learning and student retention.

It is imperative that we prepare our children for the sophisticated workforce of the 21st century and an increasingly competitive global economy. This legislation takes some of the brightest ideas for modernizing teaching and learning and matches them with the dollars needed to translate them from paper to practice. That, I believe, is a goal we can all agree on.

I urge my colleagues to support the Empowering Teaching and Learning Through Education Portals Act.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

S. 3184


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