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(WASHINGTON, DC) - After a heated debate, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee today defeated Senator Patty Murray's (D-Wash.) amendment to reduce class sizes in the early grades. Senator Murray's amendment would commit $2.4 billion in FY 2002 to continue the effort to help school districts hire 100,000 new public school teachers.

"With all the evidence available, I am astonished that some members of the committee seem not to recognize the importance of reducing class sizes," Murray said.

The committee was 'marking up' the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, and preparing to present a bill to the full Senate as early as next week.

"We know smaller class sizes improve students' academic performance and social behavior," Murray continued. "The second tragic school shooting this week demonstrates how much America's children need more attention and involvement from teachers and other adults. They need love and support at home, but they need attention and guidance at school. Students can only get that attention in a classroom where they are a name, not a number."

Murray's bill was defeated on a party-line vote 10-10 in the committee. An amendment is not approved on a tie vote. Murray's amendment was one of about 25 amendments offered during the first day of mark up.

"For three years, class size reduction has been supported by members of both parties. It is deeply regrettable that the Republicans have chosen to abandon our effort to hire 100,000 new teachers when more than 1.7 million children are already benefitting from smaller classes."