Rahm Emanuel on Education
Democratic Rep. (IL-5); Chief of Staff-Designee
EMANUEL: To the larger economy, the biggest thing that is happening is a skills deficit that inhibits us from doing what we need to do. Having a four-year college degree or better is key. I am not for this [smiles mischievously], but B.P. in Indiana is expanding a huuuuuge refinery. They are bringing in people from Alabama and Kentucky because we don't have enough pipefitters up here
Q: This isn't an issue where you seem angry, yelling that Wall Street needs to pay.
EMANUEL: Look, I am not defending Wall Street. Wall Street has screwed up enough. But let me answer it this way: Wall Street is not to blame that we had a 7% graduation rate in city community colleges. I fixed it--it is now 14%. I doubled it in two years. Wall Street is not responsible for that. We allowed the colleges to deteriorate.
The situation was unfair and unsustainable. So Mayor Emanuel canceled the teacher's pay raise. "I can't, in good conscience, continue an implicit understanding between parties that left our children on the side of the road," Emanuel declared. "I will not accept our children continuing to get the shaft."
Not only did Emanuel cancel the pay raise, he also demanded a series of reforms, such as lengthening the school day (at 5 hours and 45 minutes, Chicago's elementary schools had the shortest day of any urban district in the country), modest changes in health care, an expansion of charter schools, and merit pay.
And we need to transform the weakest link in our education system: high school. A nation with many of the best colleges on earth must no longer tolerate having some of the worst high schools.
Our current school year wasn't designed for the Information Age; it's a remnant of our agrarian past. We need to increase the amount of time young people spend learning--by lengthening the school day, extending the school year, and keeping young people engaged in learning over the course of the summer.
Although the US is justly proud of having the finest system of colleges and universities in the world, the rest of the world seems to understand the value of college better than we do. America was once first in the world in college enrollment. Now we rank ninth. We're also the only industrialized country not to increase its college graduation rate in the last twenty years.
College is vital to our individual economic success, our collective economic survival, and, above all, our faith in a better future. Yet instead of spreading this miracle of college, Washington let it be priced out of most American's reach. Yet the Bush administration pushed the largest cut in college aid in history, and failed to keep its promise to significantly increase Pell Grants
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority & duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.
Veto message from President Bush:
This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.
Proponents support voting YES because:
I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.
If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.
By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.
Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.
To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.
As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.
We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.
The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:
To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
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