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(Washington, D.C.) -- This week, negotiations continued between both parties and the White House about upcoming legislation to update our nation's federal education policy. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will likely be reauthorized this year.

In advance of the Senate debate, Senator Murray made this statement on the Senate floor on April 24, 2001. She reminded her colleagues that reform efforts will fail unless they also provide schools with adequate resources. She also noted the danger of passing President Bush's testing program without giving states the funding they will need to develop and administer new tests.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Mrs. MURRAY. I commend my colleague from North Dakota for his eloquent statement on education. I come to the floor today to join a number of Democratic Senators who have been here this afternoon to speak about the issue of education which is going to come before the Senate this coming week. I share their passion and their concern as we look at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It is critical we understand we all share the same goals. President Bush stated very rightly that no child should be left behind. Everyone in this body wants to make sure that no child is left behind. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is our opportunity to do that because, as we all know, education is the key to a child's future. If they know how to read, they will make it in this world. If they can do math, they will be able to move on. If they can converse, they will be able to get a job and be successful. That is our goal for every single child.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is being worked on now has a number of compromises in it. It is not everything everybody wants, but the one concern that I want to express adamantly to this body before we bring this bill to the floor is the lack of available resources. It is so easy to say we set standards, we set goals that we demand our children and their schools reach. But if we don't provide the dollars for them to be able to reach those goals, we are simply putting out a mandate, an unfunded mandate, to districts which means the kids will fail. There is no doubt that if you want a child to learn to read, you have to provide the resources for a teacher who is capable. You need to make sure the class size is small enough, that the child has enough personal time with the teacher, an expert, to be able to learn to read.

It is not magic. It takes a qualified teacher. We want to make sure all of our kids pass the annual tests. Just giving tests as required in the bill does not assure the students will do better. I fear it means without the backing of the resources behind it, so the children can learn what is required of them to pass the test, the children will fail and drop out of school. And, yes, 5 years from now we may have a higher percentage of kids doing better on tests but nobody will be testing the kids who didn't make it, who dropped out, who failed, who are not in the school system anymore. Those are the kids we cannot leave behind.

Without the resources that are so important for success, and a commitment from this White House to have the resources available, we will have failed America's children if we move this bill forward.

We know what works in public education. Any one of us who has been to a school recently knows what makes a difference. A teacher makes all the difference. A good teacher and a good principal makes an incredible difference. A parent who is involved makes an incredible difference. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in every school. A lot of classrooms don't have qualified teachers. That is a concern. It doesn't happen just because we mandate it. It happens because we provide the resources to recruit good teachers, to help school districts hire them, and to make sure that every child is in a classroom with a qualified teacher.

We know the facility that a child learns in makes a difference. I have been in classrooms, as I believe several of my colleagues have, where children are wearing coats, where there are buckets catching raindrops, where there is no electrical outlet for the children to even plug in a computer much less have a computer, where there isn't even a restroom facility in the building; they have to go outside across the way to get to one.

How do you expect a child to learn in that kind of environment? It does not happen. Unless we put investments into bringing our buildings up to code and providing a partnership at the Federal level for those districts and schools that need it the most, we cannot expect children to learn. We cannot require that children only pass or move on if they have the best teacher and the best classroom and the best facility. If we do, we will have failed numbers of children in this country, and that is really the wrong policy.

I will have much to say about many of these issues as we move through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the coming days or weeks. But I just want our colleagues to know that the worst thing we can do is pass an Elementary and Secondary Education Act without adequate funding for the requirements we are making, because several years from now we will have every school district, every school administrator, every school board member, every parent, and every teacher at our door saying you passed an unfunded mandate down to us. Instead of recruiting good teachers and building our classrooms and working hard to teach our kids, we are failing them because the only thing we are doing is providing testing.