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(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) spoke in favor of an amendment offered by Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn) to ensure that disadvantaged students receive the Title I funding they need to succeed. Unfortunately, the amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act failed by a 23-71 vote.

Senator Murray's complete speech follows:

Mr. President, Senator Wellstone brings us an amendment today that gets to the very heart of this bill – helping our schools ensure that no child is left behind. Some seem to think that the heart of this bill is testing. But as a former educator and a parent, I know that testing alone will not ensure one additional child learns to read. Testing alone will not help our nation's students learn to add and subtract. The heart of this bill must be a true effort by the federal government to serve as a partner to our states and local communities in offering every child a high-quality education and a true chance to succeed.

In 1965, when the federal government first recognized it's special responsibility to provide additional resources to help the most disadvantaged students, we determined a level of support that was necessary to ensure they could succeed. Since then we have failed over and over again to truly give them that support. That's what this amendment is about – ensuring that we finally meet that commitment to those children.

Over the course of this debate, many of my colleagues have said that Title I has failed to help our children over the past 35 years. They cite stagnant test scores as proof that additional investments in Title I have been a waste. That is ridiculous. The reality is that, after adjusting for inflation, Title I spending has been almost flat.

Meanwhile, the job of our public schools has gotten more demanding -- serving not only more students overall, but more students with challenges like limited English proficiency and disabilities. But these flip statements about Title I having failed our disadvantaged students are perhaps most disingenuous and frustrating when one considers the chronic underfunding of Title I.

Allow me to illustrate the absurdity of this argument that Title I has failed. Let's assume that Congress decides we must build a bridge from the House to the Senate side of the Capitol. After building only one-third of the bridge, we begin sending people over the bridge. Not surprisingly, no one makes it to the other side. Some Senators express shock and dismay that no one has crossed the incomplete bridge. After years of this folly, we declare that the bridge is clearly a failure and it must be torn down.

Well that's what we have done with Title I. We have determined that a need exists, developed a solution, failed to implement that solution and then declared that the solution is not a good one. The promise of Title I has never truly been fulfilled, and because of that, the promise of millions of children may also not have been fulfilled. But this is not a matter of getting people across the Capitol, this is about our children's lives. This is about giving them a true chance to succeed.

Title I has not failed our most disadvantaged children, we have failed them by not fully funding Title I. Title I provides some of the most targeted and flexible funding there is. This is the kind of funding we need to offer if children are going to have any chance of passing these tests.

Last week when I was home in Washington state, I met with 31 Superintendents and countless parents who stopped me in the grocery store, the street or anywhere else they could find me to express their enormous concern about this bill. They know that we are sending them a huge unfunded testing mandate, but they are not sure we're sending them much else, and frankly Mr. President, neither am I.

I know this bill does not provide smaller classes, support for school renovation or even all the money they will need to develop and implement these new tests. I also know this bill imposes serious consequences based on the results of these new tests. But this bill does not give them the tools they need to help kids pass these tests.

What is our goal with this bill? Is it to impose an enormous unfunded testing mandate on our schools? Is it to declare schools as "in need of improvement" or to shut them down? Is it to set our children and their teachers up for failure? Or is it to ensure no child is left behind by, yes, measuring their progress, but also providing the resources that will help them make progress?

I have heard my colleagues claim over and over again that the testing in this bill is simply a measure, and that it will help us identify the areas of need. Will anyone be surprised if these new tests show that many children in our poorest schools are not succeeding? When will they have sufficient evidence that the problem exists and be willing to take the steps needed to solve it?

We keep hearing people say that this bill is about "accountability." Well I've got news for them. Most of our nation's teachers, principals and other educators have always felt accountable to the people they serve.

What about our accountability? When will we be held accountable for following through on our commitments? We've gotten away with not following through on this one for 35 years. Isn't it time we held ourselves accountable and stopped picking on the teachers and parents who are struggling every day to educate children with insufficient resources?

About a month ago, 78 of my colleagues and I came down to this floor and voted to invest this amount of funds in our most disadvantaged children. Was our vote that day yet another empty promise? I expect that at least the same 79 votes will be registered in favor of Senator Wellstone's amendment, since it simply affirms the commitment we have made to these children. This vote is a test. Are we willing to put our money where out mouths are on? Any Senator who voted for the Dodd amendment, but votes against this amendment will have some explaining to do. Not to me, but to the children who they are deceiving with false promises of help backed up only by another test – not a smaller class, a well-prepared teacher, or an after school program.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and show the nation's most disadvantaged children that we are committed to offering more than just words of encouragement -- we are committed to offering them the support they need to succeed.