"I am very excited to join my House and Senate New Democrat Coalition colleagues in the introduction of the Three R's bill.

As someone who has been working for more flexibility, less bureaucracy, and results-oriented accountability in our K-12 public education system for several years, I couldn't be happier to see this idea take hold in more and more Senators and House members and, in particular, President Bush. Consolidating federal programs, reducing red tape, targeting funding to those school districts most in need, and demanding results is a framework for a better federal role in the K-12 education system that I hope a majority of Democrats and Republicans will coalesce around.

While our ideas are similar, there are differences between our approach and President Bush's approach. We believe in sending the majority of federal dollars to local school districts instead of routing it all through the state governments. We think it's important to preserve Title 1 dollars specifically for disadvantaged students, and we believe in strong and swift action to turn around failing public schools instead of sending money to private schools through vouchers.

However, I am very hopeful that we can bridge these differences and enact meaningful, comprehensive reform of the Elementary and Secondary Act this year. I look forward to working with my congressional colleagues and the White House in the year ahead."