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[Congressional Record: March 22, 2001 (House)]
[Page H1103-H1110]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr22mr01-134]                         



 
       EDUCATION IN AMERICA TODAY MEANS A CRUSADE FOR OPPORTUNITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Ferguson). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Owens) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, we might call today kind of opportunity day, 
since today is the day that the Republican majority introduced their 
bill on education reform that has been long awaited. The bill 
introduced by the Republican majority is the administration's bill. We 
have all waited for this great education initiative which responds to 
the fact that the American people have, over the last 5 years, 
consistently said that education is a priority; they would like to see 
government do more in the area of education. They would like to see 
every level of government, but they particularly would like to see the 
Federal Government, do more to help improve education. So the 
Republican bill was introduced today. I have not seen the details of 
the bill, but we, of course, have had for several weeks the outline 
that the administration issued very early this year. That outline talks 
about focusing on failing schools and targeting Federal resources so 
that most of the Federal resources go to the most disadvantaged 
students in these failing schools.
  Now that was introduced formally as a bill today. At the same time, 
we introduced a 21st century higher education initiative today from the 
Democratic side of the aisle. The Democratic Caucus, under the 
leadership of the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt) and the 
ranking member on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Miller), we have fashioned a bill which 
we call the 21st Century Higher Education Initiative. And that bill was 
discussed at great length today at a press conference.
  We held a press conference today and we talked about the bill today, 
in particular, because today is the 2nd day of a very important 
conference being held here in the City of Washington, D.C., the 
National Association for Equal Opportunity, NAEO, which represents 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, predominantly black 
colleges and universities, and is holding their annual conference this 
weekend. It will go on until this Friday.
  Mr. Speaker, among the colleges represented by NAEO are 118 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and those institutions 
have been the subject of some controversy over the last few weeks in 
that the Committee on Education and the Workforce where I serve as a 
member chose to place all minority colleges, both the three categories 
of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving 
institutions, and the tribally controlled colleges were all placed in a 
subcommittee away from the core of the higher education concerns. We 
have resolved that dispute. And I do not want to go into it in any 
great detail, but I think it is relevant, because as we focus today on 
the introduction of the administration's education reform bill and the 
introduction of the democratic initiative called the 21st Century 
Higher Education Initiative, it is important to place in perspective 
the role that those institutions can play. They can play a great role 
in education reform.
  Historically Black Colleges and Universities are only a tiny part of 
the larger constellation of higher education institutions in America. 
There must be about 3,000, more than 3,000 overall higher education 
institutions in America, and the 118 Historically Black Colleges and 
Universities constitute a very tiny segment of that constellation. Even 
if we add the Hispanic-serving institutions which are defined as 
institutions which have at least 25 percent of their student body as 
Hispanics, and we have the tribally controlled colleges, which are the 
colleges which serve native Americans, we still have a relatively small 
number of institutions, minority-focused institutions in the larger 
constellation of higher education institutions.
  Of course, most of the African Americans now in America are attending 
colleges that are not Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 
Larger numbers are out there in the various State universities and the 
private colleges because discrimination, which is the reason the 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities were created, has greatly 
lessened. In fact, that kind of blatant discrimination which cut off 
opportunities completely from African-

[[Page H1104]]

American students has ceased. That is not the problem anymore.
  The reason these institutions are important and should continue to 
exist is because they do have a special mission. Whereas the mission 
before was to serve those that could get no decent service anywhere 
else, or those that needed particular kinds of nurturing, the purpose, 
the mission still remains. They do not need nurturing because they 
cannot get into other colleges and universities as a result of racial 
discrimination, no, that is not the problem; they need nurturing 
because large numbers of these students are poor. Large numbers of 
these students need opportunity. They have backgrounds that did not 
prepare them as well as they should have been prepared for other 
institutions, and they need the nurturing and the guidance and the 
counseling and the special focus of concern that they may receive in 
minority-serving institutions.

  So the opportunity is where we should be focused now. We ought to 
look upon ourselves as being a society which is engaged in a crusade 
for opportunity, a crusade for opportunity. We have had a lot of 
debates and we will continue to have debates about race and the role 
that race plays in terms of opportunity and opening doors and allowing 
people to fully develop themselves. That debate will still go on. 
However, we could minimize that debate, or almost make it irrelevant, 
if we focus on opportunity and say, regardless of what one's race or 
color or creed, we want to maximize in this society the amount of 
opportunity that we have. We want to maximize opportunity for all 
individuals because it is good and in harmony with our Constitution and 
our Declaration of Independence. For the right to pursue happiness, the 
implication is that we will not only guarantee the right to pursue 
happiness, but we will encourage the conditions to pursue happiness, 
and one of the conditions of the pursuit of happiness is that one has 
to have the opportunity to develop and be able to, first of all, 
survive by earning a living, and secondly, to earn enough to be able to 
improve quality of life.
  So if we rally under the flag of opportunity, then we will solve a 
lot of problems, avoid a lot of controversies, and we could carry this 
administration, this next 2 years of the 107th Congress, carry it 
forward nobly into a set of bipartisan activities that would do us all 
proud. It would be very uplifting for the entire country, it would 
certainly stoke the spirits of the Members of Congress if we could 
really tackle the education issue and come out of it with a bipartisan 
bill and bipartisan program that carries our Nation forward 
educationally. That would be highly desirable.
  So the introduction of these two pieces of legislation related to 
education is a good jump-off point. We are more serious about it now. 
Let me just backtrack and say that whereas the administration 
introduced their bill today for education reform, we had already as 
Democrats introduced a bill earlier.
  The gentleman from California (Mr. Miller), the ranking Democrat on 
the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the rest of the 
Democratic members on the committee, introduced a bill which would 
accomplish the same kind of education reform which the Republican 
majority bill introduced today is proposing to accomplish. Our bill, we 
should note, did not hesitate to make resources available. We are 
talking about $105 billion over a 5-year period in the legislation that 
the Democrats introduced, which is going to be one of those major 
differences between the administration's bill and the administration's 
approach and the Democratic minority's approach.
  We must approach the opportunity ethic and the opportunity crusade 
that is needed to bring the country to the point where we want to bring 
it where every citizen can be educated, has a maximum opportunity to be 
educated, can make their own contribution to our society in an era of 
great global competitiveness; every citizen can carry their own weight; 
every citizen can help us maintain our leadership economically, 
militarily because they are educated and the requirements of this 
particular complex society are that one has a maximum number of 
educated people.
  Mr. Speaker, nothing is more important no greater resource can any 
Nation have than to have an educated populous. But as we approach the 
provision of opportunity for all, we cannot leave out certain areas 
that are directly impacting upon that opportunity. It is not by 
accident that the education function, the jurisdiction for education 
programs is also coupled with the jurisdiction for all programs related 
to working families and the workplace and the acquisition of income. 
The Committee on Education and the Workforce used to be called, was 
called for a long time, most of the history of this Congress, the 
Education and Labor Committee. It was clearly understood that education 
and labor went together, were inseparable.
  One of the things we must do in improving the workforce is to make 
certain that they all get a decent education. One of the ways we 
improve the lives of working families is to make certain that they are 
in a position to have their children educated without unnecessary 
strain. If families have to pay enormous tuitions, if they have to move 
about in search of good schools regardless of other kinds of factors 
that may exist in the economy, then they are saddled with great 
hardship that should not be.
  So we must be concerned as we look at an approach which would 
maximize opportunity with the total set of conditions that are in our 
economy and society that government has an impact on. Government has a 
duty, government has the authority, government has the responsibility 
to create an atmosphere where the pursuit of happiness is a 
possibility.

                              {time}  1515

  They have the responsibility to create an atmosphere where the 
pursuit of happiness is a possibility, where the pursuit of an 
education is a possibility, where the ability of families and 
individuals in those families to take advantage of opportunities that 
are provided for education are increased.
  This increase is greatly facilitated if the income of the families 
improve. The best way to help poor people, the best way to help poor 
families is to make sure the amount of money that they have is 
increased. There are a number of ways that have been proposed in terms 
of fighting poverty, but the best way to fight poverty is to get some 
more dollars into the hands of working families so that they can spend 
those dollars in a way to help them pursue happiness and to pursue 
opportunity.
  We cannot have an education policy, we cannot go forward with the 
educational reform and totally ignore the conditions under which the 
large majority of the people we are targeting live and work.
  President Bush is targeting his program to innercity communities, 
rural communities, places where there are disadvantaged children, 
places where there are failing schools. The correlation between poverty 
and disadvantaged children and failing is very clear. That correlation 
with poverty is very clear.
  Failing, poverty and disadvantaged go together. We have recognized 
this for quite a while in our legislation. We have a Title I program, 
which is a primary program which serves poor students; and Title I is 
based upon a laser beam being focused on the poorest areas and 
attempting to provide Federal aid in the areas where the poorest 
students attend schools.
  We are identifying those poor students with another Federal program, 
students who are eligible to receive free lunches. Free lunches are 
provided by the Department of Agriculture. It is under the auspices of 
the United States Department of Agriculture, a Federal program that has 
a longstanding history of success.
  So we identify the worthy recipients of our education funds by those 
who qualify for the free lunch programs. Poverty and the need to 
provide opportunity enhanced by Federal dollars is closely correlated. 
There is no argument about this. Everybody concedes that there is a 
close correlation between poverty and lack of opportunity, poverty and 
disadvantaged status. So let us, as we address the education issue, 
look at the larger education workforce issues.
  Look at the fact that we have not passed an increase in the minimum 
wage. The 106th Congress got close to

[[Page H1105]]

it at one point, but we did not bring it to the floor. There was no 
increase in the minimum wage, even a minimum increase in the minimum 
wage. I do call it a minimum increase, because all we were proposing 
was a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage per year over a 2-year 
period. That would have brought the minimum wage up to 6.15 from the 
5.15, and we did not do that. The minimum wage at this point is at the 
level of 5.15 per hour.
   There are some other mechanisms that relate to the Fair Labor 
Standards Act and other responsibilities under the Department of Labor 
related to improving income which also have not been activated. Most 
people do not know or understand the regulations related to the H-2A 
program, H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program.
  Mr. Speaker, the H-2A foreign agricultural worker program is a 
complicated program designed to stop illegal immigration into the 
country, exploitation of immigrants, and that has worked in many ways 
in terms of an orderly flow of immigrants into the country into the 
farm areas where large numbers of farm workers were needed.
  One of the provisions in that legislation and one of the provisions 
presently existing in the law is a requirement that a survey be made of 
the prevailing wages in the area, something similar to Davis-Bacon for 
construction, across this country. But in order not to undercut farm 
laborers who already are in the country, citizens of the Nation who are 
working in the farm areas, farm workers who are not immigrants, in 
order not to undercut them, this law requires that there be a survey 
made of the area, and you reach some kind of level of identifying a 
prevailing wage for farm area workers.
  All of the temporary foreign agricultural worker programs must then 
pay that wage. It varies from one area to another. But sometimes there 
is a considerable amount of substance between what the farm area 
workers are earning and what the imported immigrants are paid. But, by 
law, they must pay this wage that is established as a result of the 
survey.
  We were deeply concerned with the fact that each year they issued the 
tables and they published the statistics and the determinations of what 
this wage rate should be and, as a result of that publication, the 
workers in those areas are eligible for, and should be paid, according 
to the new calculations, the new wage rates.
  We were concerned that this is a routine matter, a ministerial 
function of the Department of Labor. It does not take much to get out a 
letter which says that the survey has been conducted, State-by-State. 
Here are the figures, and here is the table for this year.
  Mr. Speaker, that has been done pretty routinely in the past, and we 
were shocked to find that it did not happen with this new 
administration.
  We wrote to the Department of Labor Secretary, Secretary of Labor 
Elaine L. Chao, in February of this year, February 28, because usually 
very early in February these tables for the new wage rates are issued. 
They were not issued.
  We wrote a letter to her, and I am going to read that letter and 
enter it into the record, so that you will see what the problem is.
  What are we talking about? We are talking about income for people at 
the very bottom of the scale, income for migrant farm workers. But more 
importantly are, or just as important as the income of these workers, 
is the standard that is upheld. You do not undercut the farmer workers 
who are already there.
  Though farm workers who are already working, making very low wages, 
should not have their wages undercut by immigrant farmer workers who 
come in and are paid less are exploited. That is the reason why we 
insist that there be a survey made, an establishment of a prevailing 
wage. And once the prevailing wage is established, you must pay the 
immigrant workers at that level so you do not undercut the labor 
standards and the labor standard of living of the workers in that area.
  So we wrote to Secretary Chao, ``We are deeply concerned that the 
Department of Labor has not performed the simple annual clerical duty, 
as required under current regulation, to publish in the Federal 
Register the adverse effect wage rates applicable to farm workers and 
employers under the H-2A temporary foreign agriculture foreign worker 
program. Ordinarily, the wage rates are issued in early to mid-
February; however, the wage rates have not been issued yet.
  ``Department of Labor's responsibility in issuing the wage rates is 
ministerial. The Department of Labor merely publishes the State-by-
State results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's regional surveys 
of the average hourly wage rates for field and livestock workers. This 
information has already been given to the Department of Labor.''
  They had the information that was empowered from the surveys.
  Continuing to read in the letter to Secretary Elaine Chao dated 
February 28, ``Failure to publish the new wage rates in the Federal 
Register apparently means that they will not take effect. Consequently, 
employers can pay farm workers last year's adverse effect wage rates, 
most of which are significantly lower than they would be if the new 
wage rates were published.
  ``Although many farm workers are affected by the H-2A program have 
not yet begun their seasons, in Florida, for example, there are ongoing 
seasons and there are H-2A companies operating at this time of the 
year. Florida's H-2A AEWR was $7.25 per hour for the year 2000.''
  This year it is supposed to be increased to $7.66 an hour, and it has 
not taken effect. They also give an example for Georgia.
  Continuing in the letter to Elaine Chao, ``The DOL, the Department of 
Labor, cites the moratorium on regulations as the reason for its 
failure to publish. This is absurd, since the DOL's act of publishing 
in the Federal Register the survey results'' would be really of 
publishing the survey results which ``already obtained from the USDA 
would not be a new regulation. The current regulation, issued in 1987, 
directs DOL to publish these wage rates in a timely manner and the 
failure to do so violates the regulation.
  ``We strongly urge you to take prompt action to publish the adverse 
effect wage rates under the H-2A program in order to carry out the 
Department's obligation to protect U.S. farm workers and foreign 
workers from being subjected to wage rates that undermine labor 
standards in American agriculture.
  ``Please let us know when we can expect DOL to carry out its 
obligations under the law.''
  This letter is signed by the gentleman from California (Mr. George 
Miller), the gentleman from New York (Mr. Owens) and the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Berman).
  Mr. Speaker, I want to include for the Record the letter to Elaine 
Chao as aforementioned:
         Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of 
           Representatives
                                Washington, DC, February 28, 2001.
     Hon. Elaine L. Chao,
     Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor, Washington, DC.
       Dear Secretary Chao: We are deeply concerned that the 
     Department of Labor (DOL) has not performed the simple annual 
     clerical duty, as required under current regulation (20 CFR 
     655.107), to publish in the Federal Register the adverse 
     effect wage rates applicable to farmworkers and employers 
     under the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. 
     Ordinarily, the wage rates are issued in early to mid-
     February; however, the wage rates have not been issued yet.
       DOL's responsibility in issuing the wage rates is 
     ministerial. The Department of Labor merely publishes the 
     state-by-state results of the US Department of Agriculture's 
     (USDA) regional surveys of the average hourly wage rates for 
     field and livestock workers (combined). This information has 
     already been given to DOL.
       Failure to publish the new wage rates in the Federal 
     Register apparently means that they will not take effect. 
     Consequently, employers can pay farmworkers last year's 
     adverse effect wage rates, most of which are significantly 
     lower than they would be if the new wage rates were 
     published.
       Although many farmworkers affected by the H-2A program have 
     not yet begun their seasons, in Florida for example, there 
     are ongoing seasons and there are H-2A companies operating at 
     this time of the year. Florida's H-2A AEWR was $7.25 per hour 
     for the year 2000. The Florida AEWR is supposed to increase 
     to $7.66 per hour for 2001. In Georgia, where most work has 
     not started yet, the H-2A AEWR is supposed to increase by 11 
     cents per hour to $6.83. These changes may be small but they 
     are extremely important to the farmworkers who earn these low 
     wage rates.
       The DOL cites the moratorium on regulations as the reason 
     for its failure to publish.

[[Page H1106]]

     This is absurd, since the DOL's act of publishing in the 
     Federal Register the survey results already obtained from the 
     USDA would not be a new regulation. The current regulation, 
     issued in 1987, directs DOL to publish these wage rates in a 
     timely manner and the failure to do so violates the 
     regulation.
       We strongly urge you to take prompt action to publish the 
     adverse effect wage rates under the H-2A program in order to 
     carry out the Department's obligation to protect U.S. farm 
     workers and foreign workers from being subjected to wage 
     rates that undermine labor standards in American agriculture.
       Please let us know when we can expect DOL to carry out its 
     obligations under the law.
           Sincerely,
     George Miller.
     Major Owens.
     Howard L. Berman. 

  Mr. Speaker, the response from Secretary Chao came on March 16.

       Dear Congressman Miller, thank you for your and your 
     colleagues' letter expressing concerns regarding the 
     Department's publication of the Adverse Effects Wage Rates as 
     required under the 20 CFR 655.107. I share your concerns 
     about U.S. farm workers and U.S. farmers.
       Staff have provided me with an initial briefing on the 
     issues surrounding the AEWR. As a result, I have learned that 
     concerns have been raised about the fairness and accuracy of 
     the methodology used to compute the AEWR. In keeping with the 
     spirit of the memorandum from the Assistant to the President 
     and Chief of Staff entitled, Regulatory Review Plan, the 
     announcement of the 2001 AEWR is delayed for 60 days while I 
     review the issues in preparation for a decision.
       I have instructed staff to further investigate the concerns 
     that have been raised about the methodology used to compute 
     the rates to assist me in becoming more familiar with the 
     issue. I will be pleased to advise you when final action has 
     been taken.
       I hope the information above is responsive to your concern. 
     Sincerely, Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

  Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record the response from Secretary 
Chao:

                                           Secretary of Labor,

                                       Washington, March 16, 2001.
     Hon. George Miller,
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Congressman Miller: Thank you for your and your 
     colleagues' letter expressing concerns regarding the 
     Department's publication of the Adverse Effect Wage Rates 
     (AEWR) as required under 20 CFR 655.107. I share your 
     concerns about U.S. farm workers and U.S. farmers.
       Staff have provided me with an initial briefing on the 
     issues surrounding the AEWR. As a result, I have learned that 
     concerns have been raised about the fairness and accuracy of 
     the methodology used to compute the AEWR. In keeping with the 
     spirit of the memorandum from the Assistant to the President 
     and Chief of Staff entitled, ``Regulatory Review Plan,'' the 
     announcement of the 2001 AEWR is delayed for 60 days while I 
     review the issues in preparation for a decision.
       I have instructed staff to further investigate the concerns 
     that have been raised about the methodology used to compute 
     the rates to assist me in becoming more familiar with the 
     issue. I will be pleased to advise you when final action has 
     been taken.
       I hope the information above is responsive to your 
     concerns.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Elaine L. Chao.

  Mr. Speaker, I think that any high school student and sophomore can 
see one of the problems here are the regulations were supposed to be 
issued in early February. They were not issued; and, therefore, we 
wrote a letter to the Department of Labor Secretary. And now she is 
telling us in March that she is putting it on hold for 60 days in order 
to review it.
  The reason given for reviewing that is that the President's staff has 
issued a statement that there should be no new regulations until they 
are reviewed. This is not a new regulation. This is a simple 
computation that was mandated by an old regulation. This is a simple 
matter of issuing a statement based on what the law already has 
dictated should be done so that workers out there earning minimum wages 
in the farm sector will not have to wait for 60 days from March 16.
  She did not really say she has given herself a deadline. It is a 
vague 60 days. Mr. Speaker, March 16 is already 2 months late in 
issuing these standards, another 60 days, and it may go on to June, and 
a half year will go by.
  What does a half year mean to a farm worker? In the case of New York, 
the regulations say that, instead of being paid 7.68 an hour, as they 
are now, the new prevailing wage rates show that they should be paid 
8.17 an hour, close to 50 cents more for a 40-hour week. Fifty cents 
more means that you got $20 more in your pay. For a whole 6 months, a 
half year, that is 20 times all those weeks.
  My colleagues might say that still is chicken feed, chump change, not 
much money, but for a worker who is earning $7 an hour, that is 
important money for his family. Why should we deprive them of 50 cents 
an hour because there is this kind of lethargy and laziness?
  Mr. Speaker, I hope there is nothing more sinister than that in the 
Department of Labor. The Department of Labor ought to go ahead and 
issue the standards. The table is right here. It is already compiled. 
It is available for every State. California moves from $7.27 an hour to 
$7.56 an hour, Florida from $7.25 an hour to $7.60 an hour. On and on 
it goes, with increases I think being as high as 50 cents an hour that 
workers would be getting.

                              {time}  1530

  That is workers who are foreign workers coming in. It is also workers 
who already here would be paid at the same level. In fact, their 
payment at that level is already established. That is how one arrives 
at these figures.
  So if one cares about opportunity, if one cares about education at 
the elementary, secondary school level, if one cares about education at 
the higher education level, then one of the first things one wants to 
do is make certain that families have decent incomes; that they are in 
a position to send their kids to school with a decent meal in their 
stomachs, and that they are able to support the atmosphere needed, 
stable homes for the youngsters when they return.
  One cannot separate out the responsibility of the government to 
maintain in this complex society of ours some kind of justice with 
respect to wages and say that one cares about education and 
opportunity.
  Opportunity has to come with a recognition that the basic problem in 
this Nation is poverty. The basic education problem is the poverty of 
the families. The correlation between poverty and failing schools, 
between poverty and failing students is overwhelming and clearly 
established.
  I cite workers who are farm workers, but do not forget the fact I 
started by saying we refused to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 an 
hour to $6.15 over a 2-year period. So we are looking at families in 
America saying that, you know, you can wait. The dollar increase that 
we proposed 2 years ago, which would raise the salaries by now to $6.15 
an hour are not in motion. Last year's Congress did not act on it. It 
is not on the agenda for this year.
  So are we interested in enhancing opportunity for all in America? 
Forget about race, color, creed. Let us focus on a crusade for 
opportunity. Provide opportunity for everybody, and that way we solve a 
lot of different problems. In the provision of opportunity, do not 
overlook the conditions that working families live under and the fact 
that they have to have decent incomes.
  In the area of migrant workers, for example, for my colleagues' 
information, there are an estimated 1.6 million migrant or seasonal 
farm workers working in the fields, the orchards, the greenhouses, the 
nurseries, and the ranches of America. But this does not include those 
who work in meat-packing plants and livestock assemblies.
  One thing we could say is that we in Congress are examining requests 
for new programs to ensure that agricultural businesses remain in 
business. Traditionally, it has been the grains, soybeans and other 
capital-intensive crops that have relied on subsidies and government 
assistance.
  We taxpayers have paid subsidies for some of these same crops these 
farm workers are gathering. The way we are doing it now helps to 
eliminate the subsidies necessary to be paid by the government.
  The growers of fruits, vegetables, and other labor-intensive crop 
growers have not received subsidies. Produce growers have benefited 
from international trade agreements and Americans' greater interest in 
eating fruits and vegetables for health reasons. But fruit and 
vegetable growers more and more are asking for additional government 
assistance.
  As we consider expanding assistance to agricultural businesses in the 
upcoming farm bill, we should look at

[[Page H1107]]

how those employees in those businesses are doing. The evidence is that 
agriculture workers are not doing well. In fact, as the fruit and 
vegetable industry has expanded its imports dramatically, U.S. farm 
workers have gotten poorer.
  The National Agricultural Workers Survey of the Department of Labor 
profiles characteristics of crop workers and their jobs. This is Report 
Number 8 in a series of publications based on the findings of the 
National Agricultural Worker Survey, a nationwide random survey on the 
demographic and employment characteristics of hired crop workers.
  This report, like those before it, finds that several long-standing 
trends characterizing the farm-labor work force and the farm-labor 
market are continuing. It finds that farm-worker wages have stagnated, 
annual earnings remain below the poverty level, farm workers experience 
chronic underemployment, and that the farm work force increasingly 
consists of young single males who are recent immigrants.
  Their findings of low wages, underemployment and low annual incomes 
of U.S. crop workers are indicative of a national oversupply of farm 
labor. Low annual income, in turn, most likely contributes to the 
instability that characterizes the agricultural labor market, as farm 
workers seek jobs paying higher wages and offering more hours of work.
  Over the period of the 1990s, with a strong economy and greater, 
increasingly widespread prosperity, farm-worker wages have still lost 
ground relative to those workers in private, nonfarm jobs. Since 1989, 
the average nominal hourly wage of farm workers has risen by only 18 
percent, about one-half of the 32 percent increase for nonagricultural 
farm workers.

  Adjusted for inflation, the real hourly wage of farm workers has 
dropped from $6.89 to $6.18. If just for the fact that the cost of 
doing business in this society has gone up, farm workers are really 
going backwards in terms of their minimum wage.
  Consequently, farm workers have lost 11 percent of their purchasing 
power over the last decade. For the past decade, the median income of 
individual farm workers has remained less than $7,500 per year while 
that of farm-worker families has remained less than $10,000 a year. A 
farm-worker family, four people have to live on $10,000 per year.
  The majority of the farm workers had incomes below the poverty level 
in America. Despite the fact that the relative poverty of farm workers 
and their families has grown, their use of social services remains low; 
and for some programs, their use of social services has even declined.
  In 1997, 1998, most farm workers, about 60 percent, held only one 
farm job per year. The majority had learned about their current job 
through informal means, such as through a friend, a relative or a 
workmate. On average, farm workers were employed in agriculture for 
less than half a year. Even in July, when demand for farm labor peaks 
in many parts of the country, just over half of the total farm-labor 
work force held agriculture jobs. On average, farm workers supplemented 
their agricultural earnings with 5 weeks of nonfarm employment.
  The number of weeks this work force is employed each year in farm and 
nonfarm jobs in the U.S. has been declining.
  In every way, these people on the very bottom of the labor wage 
scale, have been going backwards. I cite farm workers only as one 
example because they happen to fall under the purview of the committee 
where I serve as the ranking Democrat.
  The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections is responsible for minimum 
wage. The minimum wage of all workers in America is established by the 
Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires action 
by Congress, and Congress failed in the 106th Congress last year to 
raise the minimum wage by a measly $1 over 2 years.
  We are now saying that we want to maximize the opportunity with 
education in our society. We want to really do something about the 
reform of elementary and secondary education.
  How can we accomplish reform in elementary and secondary education? 
How can we improve opportunity in higher education when we are acting 
with contempt on the very basic issue of income for American families? 
One cannot separate out the issue of education from the issue of 
security and the nurturing of the family. All of it must go together.
  I started before by saying that today is a great day, because today 
we introduced the President's education initiative in the form of a 
bill. We always had his outline before. Now we have a bill. The 
President has introduced his education initiative for elementary and 
secondary education.
  At the same time, the Democrats introduced a bill called the 21st 
Century Higher Education Initiative, where we are moving to improve 
higher-education opportunities for minorities, the Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities, the tribally controlled colleges, and the 
Hispanic-serving institutions.
  I think it is important that it all happened today. I wanted to take 
note of that here and say that, if there is anything, nothing would be 
more pleasing to both sides of the aisle than we should come out of 
this 107th Congress with a meaningful education-reform bill, an 
education-reform bill that really carries us forward beyond the 
rhetoric that has been going on for the last few years.
  Everybody talks about education in the Congress, but very little has 
been done about it in the last few years. Everybody talks about 
education. The American people have listed education as being our 
number one priority for the last 5 years.
  But we still have schools out there which are crumbling. We still 
need, according to the survey done by the National Education 
Association, we need $320 billion for repairs and modernization and the 
construction of new schools, new public schools. $320 billion is needed 
across the Nation for the modernization, construction, and repair of 
schools.
  We have been talking about it now for the last 5 years, but the 
Federal Government did not appropriate a single penny for construction 
until the last session. In the last days of the last session in 
December, President Clinton was able to hold out and finally get an 
appropriation of $1.2 billion for school repairs, a mere $1.2 billion 
compared to the need that was established by the National Education 
Association, which says we need, over the next 10 years, about $320 
billion. But at least the 1.2, it broke the barrier. We had never had, 
for the last 50 years, never had Federal legislation on school 
construction. We have broken the barrier. $1.2 billion is available.

  Now the rumor is that the present administration that has come in 
refuses to spend the $1.2 billion on school repairs. We are going to 
have to fight about money that has already been appropriated by the 
last Congress before we move on to improve education in this Congress.
  I hope that the rumor and the stated intentions of administration are 
not true as stated. They are refusing to spend money for school 
construction. No improvement of education can go forward.
  I have seen the outline of the President's bill. They want to focus 
on schools that need help most, in the areas where we have the poorest 
population. There is a correlation there. In the inner-city communities 
and in the rural communities, we have the worst buildings, the worst 
physical facilities.
  Most children and adults who live in suburban areas and go to modern 
up-to-date schools have no idea what I am talking about. They cannot 
envision a school which has a coal-burning furnace. Still in America, 
we have schools, certainly in New York City, we have schools that are 
still burning coal in their furnace.
  What does it mean to burn coal in the school furnace? It means that 
there is inevitable pollution that is taking place day by day. The 
children are being subjected each day to unnecessary pollutants.
  When I first bought a house years ago, I could not afford anything 
else, I bought a house that had a coal-burning furnace. The house, we 
put filters on; and we did everything possible to minimize the amount 
of coal dust that circulated in the house.
  No matter what precautions one takes, if one has a coal-burning 
furnace

[[Page H1108]]

in the building, the tiny particles of coal are going to seep through. 
If one has small children, they are going to be jeopardized because the 
lungs of small children are more susceptible. And certainly, please, do 
not have a child who already is disposed to asthma.
  The asthma rate in New York City is very high. We can find the 
highest rates of asthma among children in the areas where we have 
schools that have coal-burning furnaces.
  The correlation, again, is overwhelming. So it is hard for most 
people to visualize that we have schools that are still burning coal in 
their furnace.
  I suppose it is also hard to visualize the fact that, in New York 
City, most of the school buildings are more than 50 years old. The life 
of a brick building at one time they said is about 50 years. All of our 
schools are more than 50 years old just about. Maybe about 15 percent 
are not that old; but the rest of them, more than 50 years old. Then 
about 25 percent of the schools are almost 100 years old. The buildings 
are almost 100 years old.
  So if one is going to improve education, whether one follows the 
Republican majority plan or one follows the Democratic initiative that 
was introduced earlier in the year, either one requires that one does 
something about the physical condition of the schools.

                              {time}  1545

  How do we convince young people we really care about education if we 
are forcing them to attend school in a building that has a coal-burning 
furnace? We cannot convince children that we are interested in really 
improving education if we are forcing them to attend school in a school 
building that is so overcrowded because it has so many more pupils than 
it was built for.
  We have some schools in my district built for 500 pupils and they now 
serve 1,100. They are serving 1,100 children in a building built for 
500. More than twice the number of children that the building was built 
for. As a result, the lunchroom cannot hold all the youngsters, of 
course. They have to eat in three or four cycles. The first cycle in 
the school begins at 10 o'clock.
  In other words, a certain group of children, one-third, are told that 
they have to eat lunch at 10 o'clock. Now, they have just had 
breakfast, but they have to eat lunch at 10 o'clock. The other group, 
the final third, will be eating late, after 1 o'clock. So they will be 
hungry. The first group is being forced to eat when they are not 
hungry.
  Those kinds of conditions exist in too many of our schools, where 
they start eating lunch early because the cycle has to be completed for 
three or four different cycles because the building is too small, the 
cafeteria is too small. It was not built for those kinds of students.
  We have situations where we have trailers, trailers in the school 
yards. And this is something that is not common to big city schools. 
All over the country one of the problems with rural schools is they 
have a lot of trailers out there too that were temporary. Trailers are 
temporary constructs. They are not built to last 20 years. One of my 
colleagues, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Sanchez), says she 
went to visit her old junior high school that she had attended and the 
trailers that were there temporarily when she was in that junior high 
school were still there. And we know that across the country we have 
trailers in the schoolyards and they stay there forever.
  Are we going to convince a student or the teachers that we are 
serious about improving education if we do nothing about these physical 
conditions that exist at present? If we do nothing about the fact that 
large numbers of schools do not have trained and certified teachers, 
are we going to be able to convince the youngsters or the teachers or 
parents that we seriously care about schools? So dollars are going to 
be necessary in order to fulfill the rhetoric and the plans and the 
vision statements that have been made about education.
  We also have to recognize the complexities of the situation. Although 
the President is focusing and the administration bill focuses on 
elementary and secondary education, and we are not scheduled to revise 
the Higher Education Assistance Act until next year, we must move 
across all fronts at the same time. Higher education cannot be 
separated from elementary and secondary education if we want to improve 
the schools.
  After we get past the very serious problem of physical 
infrastructure, the biggest problem that schools have now is qualified 
personnel, qualified teachers, teachers who are trained, educated 
properly. Teachers who are certified.
  In some cases, we have certified teachers who are teaching subjects 
that they are not certified to teach. A few years ago, in central 
Brooklyn and other parts of New York serving mostly Hispanic and black 
students, they made a survey and they found that most of the teachers 
who were teaching math and science in the junior high schools had not 
majored in math and science in college. They were certified teachers, 
but they were certified in some other area.

  Well, that is better than the situation that existed in a lot of 
elementary schools in one segment of my district. In New York City, the 
total city is divided up into 32 school districts. One of the school 
districts in my congressional district, district 23, year before last 
had a situation where one-half of their teachers were substitute 
teachers all year long. They were not certified, and they were not 
regular. So the students in that district were constantly being 
subjected to changing teachers every day. One-half of them were in that 
kind of situation.
  Is it any wonder that there was a drop in the reading level scores in 
that district, or that for years that district has had the notoriety of 
being on the very bottom for the whole 32 school districts in the city? 
They have gone up in the last couple of years as a result of paying 
attention to this problem and many others. But the problem of certified 
teachers is a problem that we must tackle head on. We will have no 
improvement in education unless the teachers and administrators and 
principals are all well trained.
  An initiative in higher education, colleges and universities, allows 
us to train teachers, to get those certified teachers into the 
classrooms, to improve the supply of teachers, and to be able to meet 
the number one requirement of education improvement. For that reason, I 
am proud of the fact that, along with my Democratic colleagues, we 
introduced an initiative today which relates to higher education, and 
we expect that to have an impact on education in general.
  With great pleasure, I join my Democratic colleagues today to 
introduce the 21st Century Higher Education Initiative. Since 1837, 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have played a vital role 
in producing this Nation's most influential African-American leaders; 
people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah 
Winfrey, Barbara Jordan, and Langston Hughes, all graduates of 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and they have inspired a 
generation of young people of all races.
  Today, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other 
minority-serving institutions, are continuing to produce highly 
qualified students that fill key positions in the public and private 
sector. For instance, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities 
are now responsible for producing 28 percent of all bachelor's degrees 
and 15 percent of all master's degrees earned by African Americans. 
While these numbers are encouraging, more must be done to ensure that 
minority students are not locked out of the higher education debate.
  The 21st Century Higher Education Initiative more than doubles 
funding for title III and title V and increases the maximum Pell Grant 
award from $3,750 to $7,000 over a 3-year-period. Increasing funding 
for title III and title V will close the funding gap between minority- 
and nonminority-serving institutions. Increasing the maximum Pell Grant 
award will make the burden of paying for college easier for poor 
minority students who cannot afford to attend college.
  The 21st Century Education Initiative also includes dramatic 
increases for supplemental equal opportunity grants and Federal work 
study by increasing each program by $300 million over the next 3 years. 
Both programs play a critical role in the lives of students who are 
often the first person in their family to attend college.

[[Page H1109]]

  Also included are increases for TRIO and GEAR-UP, which encourage 
minority students from underserved communities to attend college. TRIO 
and GEAR-UP have a long track record of preparing minority students for 
college through academic enrichment and mentorship activities.
  The bill also includes funding to preserve buildings on the National 
Register of Historic Places by authorizing $60 million a year for 
facilities most in need of repair on the campuses of Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities.
  In addition, the bill addresses the critical needs for qualified 
minority teachers by authorizing $30 million for a new program that 
will strengthen teacher preparation programs at minority-serving 
institutions. The 21st Century Higher Education Initiative also takes 
into account reports from the National Telecommunications & Information 
Administration and the Benton Foundation regarding the Digital Divide. 
The initiative would create a $250 million program based on proposals 
by Senator Cleland and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Towns) that 
will provide equipment, wire campuses, and train students for careers 
in technology.
  Providing increased funding for technology at HBCUs will ensure that 
young African-American students are given every opportunity to compete 
on a level playing field.
  In closing, the Democratic party has sent a clear signal to Members 
of the House and the Senate, educating minority students from 
underserved communities is at the top of our agenda. We look forward to 
working with our colleagues from across the aisle and the 
administration in passing legislation that ``leaves no child behind.''
  Increasing funding for HBCUs, HSIs, and TCCs will not only benefit 
the minority community but provide our Nation with experienced and 
talented young people who are prepared to compete in today's global 
workforce.
  Let me conclude, Mr. Speaker, by suggesting that we bring it all 
together. Let us make this year of 2001 the first year of the 107th 
Congress, the first year of a new administration, a year where we 
achieve one outstanding, glowing, bipartisan accomplishment, and that 
is the improvement of education in America.
  And as we improve education in America, let us also understand that a 
part of that requires that we improve opportunities for working 
families, starting with improving their wages and income.
  Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record a chart of wages; a Comparison 
of H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rates.

                             COMPARISON OF H-2A ADVERSE EFFECT WAGE RATES 1997-2000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          State                               1997       1998       1999       2000     2001 \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama..................................................      $5.92      $6.30      $6.30      $6.72      $6.83
Arizona..................................................       5.82       6.08       6.42       6.74       6.71
Arkansas.................................................       5.70       5.98       6.21       6.50       6.69
California...............................................       6.53       6.87       7.23       7.27       7.56
Colorado.................................................       6.09       6.39       6.73       7.04       7.43
Connecticut..............................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
Delaware.................................................       6.26       6.33       6.84       7.04       7.37
Florida..................................................       6.36       6.77       7.13       7.25       7.66
Georgia..................................................       5.92       6.30       6.30       6.72       6.83
Hawaii...................................................       8.62       8.83       8.97       9.38       9.05
Idaho....................................................       6.01       6.54       6.48       6.79       7.26
Illinois.................................................       6.66       7.18       7.53       7.62       8.09
Indiana..................................................       6.66       7.18       7.53       7.62       8.09
Iowa.....................................................       6.22       6.86       7.17       7.76       7.84
Kansas...................................................       6.55       7.01       7.12       7.49       7.81
Kentucky.................................................       5.68       5.92       6.28       6.39       6.60
Louisiana................................................       5.70       5.98       6.21       6.50       6.69
Maine....................................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
Maryland.................................................       6.26       6.33       6.84       7.04       7.37
Massachusetts............................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
Michigan.................................................       6.56       6.85       7.34       7.65       8.07
Minnesota................................................       6.56       6.85       7.34       7.65       8.07
Mississippi..............................................       5.70       5.98       6.21       6.50       6.69
Missouri.................................................       6.22       6.86       7.17       7.76       7.84
Montana..................................................       6.01       6.54       6.48       6.79       7.26
Nebraska.................................................       6.55       7.01       7.12       7.49       7.81
Nevada...................................................       6.09       6.39       6.73       7.04       7.43
New Hampshire............................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
New Jersey...............................................       6.26       6.33       6.84       7.04       7.37
New Mexico...............................................       5.82       6.08       6.42       6.74       6.71
New York.................................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
North Carolina...........................................       5.79       6.16       6.54       6.98       7.06
North Dakota.............................................       6.55       7.01       7.12       7.49       7.81
Ohio.....................................................       6.66       7.18       7.53       7.62       8.09
Oklahoma.................................................       5.48       5.92       6.25       6.49       6.98
Oregon...................................................       6.87       7.08       7.34       7.64       8.14
Pennsylvania.............................................       6.26       6.33       6.84       7.04       7.37
Rhode Island.............................................       6.71       6.84       7.18       7.68       8.17
South Carolina...........................................       5.92       6.30       6.30       6.72       6.83
South Dakota.............................................       6.55       7.01       7.12       7.49       7.81
Tennessee................................................       5.68       5.92       6.28       6.39       6.60
Texas....................................................       5.48       5.92       6.25       6.49       6.98
Utah.....................................................       6.09       6.39       6.73       7.04       7.43
Vermont..................................................       6.71       6.48       7.18       7.68       8.17
Virginia.................................................       5.79       6.16       6.54       6.98       7.06
Washington...............................................       6.87       7.08       7.34       7.64       8.14
West Virginia............................................       5.68       5.92       6.28       6.39       6.60
Wisconsin................................................       6.56       6.85       7.34       7.65       8.07
Wyoming..................................................       6.01       6.54       6.48       6.79       7.26
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not approved by the Department of Labor.

  Mr. Speaker, I also include for the Record a statement labeled 21st 
Century Higher Education Press Conference dated March 22, 2001.

                21st Century Higher Education Initiative

       It is with great pleasure that I join my Democratic 
     Colleagues by introducing the ``21st Century Higher Education 
     Initiative.'' Since 1837, Historically Black Colleges and 
     Universities have played a vital role in producing this 
     nations most influential African-American leaders. People 
     such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah 
     Winfrey, Barbara Jordan and Langston Hughes all graduates of 
     HBCU's have inspired a generation of young people of all 
     races. Today, HBCU's and other minority serving institutions 
     continue to produce highly qualified students that fill key 
     positions in the public and private sector. For instance, 
     HBCU's are now responsible for producing 28 percent of all 
     bachelor's degrees and 15 percent of all master's degrees 
     earned by African-Americans.
       While these numbers are encouraging, more must be done to 
     ensure that minority students are not locked out of the 
     higher education debate. The ``21st Century Higher Education 
     Initiative'' more than doubles funding for Title III and 
     Title V and increases the maximum Pell Grant award from 
     $3,750 to $7,000 over three years. Increasing funding for 
     Title III and V will close the funding gap between minority 
     and non-minority serving institutions. Increasing the maximum 
     Pell grant award will make the burden of paying for college 
     easier for poor minority students who can't afford to attend 
     college.
       The 21st Century Education Initiative also includes 
     dramatic increases for Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grants 
     (SEOG) and Federal Work Study by increasing each program by 
     $300 million over the next three years. Both programs play a 
     critical role in

[[Page H1110]]

     lives of students who are often the first person in their 
     family to attend college. Also included in the bill are 
     increases for TRIO and GEAR-UP which encourage minority 
     students from underserved communities to attend college. TRIO 
     and GEAR-UP have a long track record of preparing minority 
     students for college through academic enrichment and 
     mentorship activities.
       The bill also includes funding to preserve buildings on the 
     National Register of Historic Places by authorizing $60 
     million a year for facilities most in need of repair. In 
     addition, the bill addresses the critical need for qualified 
     minority teachers by authorizing $30 million for a new 
     program that will strengthen teacher preparation programs at 
     minority serving institutions. The 21st Century Higher 
     Education Initiative also takes in account reports from the 
     National Telecommunications & Information Administration 
     (NTIA) and the Benton Foundation regarding the Digital 
     Divide. The initiative would create a $250 million program 
     based on proposals by Senator Cleland and Ccongressman Towns 
     that would provide equipment, wire campuses and train 
     students for careers in technology. Providing increased 
     funding for technology at HBCU's will ensure that young 
     African-American students are given every opportunity to 
     compete on a leveled playing field.
       In closing, the Democratic party has sent a clear signal to 
     members of the House and Senate, educating minority students 
     from under-served communities is at the top of our agenda. We 
     look forward to working with our colleagues from across the 
     aisle and the Administration in passing legislation that 
     ``leaves no child behind.'' Increasing funding for HBCU's, 
     HSI's and TCC's will not only benefit the minority community 
     but provide our nation with experienced and talented young 
     people who are prepared to compete in today's global 
     workforce.

                          ____________________




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