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Public Statements

National School Choice Week

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, all around the Hill today, you will see Members of Congress wearing a red button, ``1,000 Days,'' a reminder that it has been 1,000 days since the United States Senate has passed a budget for the United States of America; 1,000 days of acting irresponsibly.

I want to pause and tell you that last year on January 8, just 3 days after being sworn in as a new United States Congressman, we were informed of the tragic incident that happened in Arizona; and I want to let the gentlewoman from Arizona, Gabby Giffords, know that I'm going to be honored that she will be on the floor with us today. The prayers of my family and of the members of the South Carolina delegation and our State go out to her and her family and the folks in Arizona that she represents every day, and we will continue to do that long after her service to this country.

Mr. Speaker, this week is National School Choice Week. All across our country, students and families are rallying for National School Choice Week, a grassroots campaign dedicated to the idea that all students, regardless of background, should have the opportunity to choose the school that most effectively motivates them to learn. For too long, we have made increases in spending and new standards from Washington our focus, which have, sadly, strangled our parents' and teachers' ability to help our students succeed.

Now, with that, I want to give a shout-out to the Nation's teachers who have to deal every day with complying with the mandates that come from Washington, D.C., while they struggle to educate the children of our country. Instead of propelling them to success, the United States has fallen to 14th in
the world in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math, compared to other countries, according to the 2009 edition of the Program for International Student Assessment. Those numbers are astonishing.

As proud Americans, we will not accept the consequences of failure, of letting our children fall behind the rest of the world. Parents are demanding results in education for their children; and Washington should listen to their message, which is, simply: We know how to reform education in our States; get Washington out of the way and watch us succeed.

Education should be returned to the States, the local communities, and to parents, just where our Founding Fathers left it when they designed this great government.

This is the reality we face: Our country, the United States of America, stormed the beaches of Normandy. We raised the flag over Iwo Jima. We fought for and won the freedom of other nations all around the globe. We ventured into space and landed the human race on the Moon. We inspired the collapse of the Berlin Wall. But before all of this, we invented the lightbulb, the automobile, the television, the telephone, discovered the art and science of flying.

Our inventions, though, are not as much the reason for our greatness as they are the result of it, because at the very beginning, at our founding, we declared to the world this belief: ``that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.''

The truth in that Declaration reminds us that our people will succeed and prosper, and our students will learn and achieve when we preserve the liberty of every parent to choose the educational environment that's best for their children. And if we do so, imagine how our children will lead the world through another century marked by the rise of freedom and the innovation that freedom inspires.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to end by echoing the words of Mr. Jones from earlier when he said: May God bless the men and women in uniform, may God bless their families, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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