(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 []

                        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 
  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 

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