December 9, 2003 - Issue: Vol. 149, No. 176 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 1st Session
NATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E2530-E2531] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] NATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK ______ HON. BOBBY L. RUSH of illinois in the house of representatives Monday, December 8, 2003 Mr. RUSH. Mr. Speaker, today, I rise in recognition of the National Education Week that was celebrated during the week of November 17th through November 22, 2003. The theme was ``Great Public Schools for Every Child--America's Promise.'' Although we triumphantly celebrated American education during that time, we must acknowledge that we have failed to fulfill the promise of ensuring a quality education for every student, regardless of their socio-economic background. Mr. Speaker, there is an underlying problem with the nucleus of our public school system, and we cannot continue to band-aid these educational atrocities. Mr. Speaker, over the past quarter of a century, the percentage of student dropout rates has stayed relatively unchanged. In fact, there are over 519,000 dropouts in America every year. Essentially, Mr. Speaker, America's dropout rates are the ``unintended consequences'' of our failure to invest the appropriate resources and programs in public school infrastructures. When students drop out of school, there is a simultaneous spiral effect that leads to a host of troubling issues, such as teenage pregnancies, juvenile delinquencies, and even criminal activities. It is well-known that teenage girls who drop out of school are approximately 50 percent more likely to have a teenage pregnancy than girls who complete their high school education. Mr. Speaker, it is not a mystery to me, where the problem lies, when an estimated eight out of 10 prisoners are high school dropouts. These obvious correlations are not a matter of happenstance. I believe we have a responsibility to remedy these issues through effective comprehensive programs in public education. Mr. Speaker, this is the reason I am introducing the Vocational Opportunities and Instruction through Cooperative Education Act, also known as the VOICE Act of 2003. This bill would require the Secretary of Education to conduct a pilot study that would examine effective cooperative education programs in high schools across the nation. The goal of my legislation is to promote alternative learning environments through school-to-work programs that have been proven to be a successful strategy in preventing high school dropouts. We know that cooperative education is an effective approach in reducing dropout rates. Mr. Speaker, School-to-Work programs, not only prevent dropout rates, but research also demonstrates that linking academic course work to career-related curriculum in the workplace, consistently increases student achievement. My legislation would also create paid partnerships for students who participate in the program. This is an important piece of my legislation because when these students are paid, it reinforces our commitment to excellence through education while rewarding the efforts of the students. My bill, the VOICE Act of 2003, provides a win-win program for schools, community businesses and organizations, and most importantly the students. Students will benefit from this program because it creates an avenue for both high academic achievement and financial incentives. And the partnership between community businesses and organizations and the schools will assure highly skilled, motivated and experienced high school graduates, which is an investment for the future workforce. Mr. Speaker, if America is serious about keeping our promise of providing great public schools for every child, then we must do everything in our power to integrate cooperative education programs into every public school classroom across this nation. It is my hope that all my colleagues will join me in the struggle to improve the quality of public education, by cosponsoring this much needed legislation. [[Page E2531]] ____________________