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Rep. Yarmuth Introduces Ready to Compete Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced the Ready to Compete Act, legislation that would leverage public television’s significant educational resources and broad access to reach more learners of all ages, expand economic opportunities, and help improve our nation’s long-term competitiveness.

Although most jobs in the global economy require a high-school education, nearly one in five Kentuckians and 15 percent of Americans still lack a diploma.

“As our economy expands, the need to prepare our future workforce and help create opportunities for today’s job-seekers also grows,” Congressman Yarmuth said. “The Ready to Compete Act taps the power and reach of public television to close the gap between current education and job-training efforts and what is needed to succeed in the global economy.”

The Ready to Compete Act (H.R. 2653) would use the considerable reach of public television – which is available in 99 percent of American households – and rich history of educational programming to expand access to high-quality enrichment for children. It would also make new investments in key job-training resources for adults through public television and the Internet.

The bill reauthorizes and expands the existing Ready to Learn Program, a competitive grant program that supports the nonprofit development of innovative educational content on television, online, and in the classroom. The program has been in effect since 1992 and, when combined with teacher training, has helped children from low-income backgrounds close the achievement gap with their middle-class peers.

Building on that success, Congressman Yarmuth’s legislation also creates a competitive grant program called Ready to Earn, which would support public broadcast stations and their partners in developing and providing resources for job-seekers, including adult literacy programs, high school equivalency test preparation, and workforce training.

Congressman Yarmuth worked extensively with Kentucky Educational Television, the Association of Public Television Stations, and teachers and employers from Louisville and across the nation to develop the Ready to Compete Act.

“Our competitive, global economy demands a workforce with more technical knowledge and skills, yet millions of Americans’ educational attainment falls short of a high school diploma,” said Shae Hopkins, executive director of Kentucky Educational Television. “Public media is a leader in providing accessible educational opportunity for the American people through proven resources such as KET’s GED Connection and Workplace Essential Skills series. Ready To Compete will help address the needs of adult learners and help ensure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary for today’s workforce.”

The Ready to Compete Act comprises two programs:

  • Ready to Learn

o   Ready to Learn is a competitive grant program for the nonprofit development of innovative educational contenton television, online, in interactive games, in the classroom, and through on-the-ground community engagement.

o   On the national level, the recipients of the Department of Education’s competitive Ready to Learn grants use these resources to develop proven and effective educational programming.

o   Locally, public television stations use their existing partnerships and community presence to bring Ready to Learn materials and resources to children and families who need it most. Local stations provide Ready to Learn materials for free to educators, community groups, families, afterschool programs, libraries, and other settings in targeted areas of need.

  • Ready to Earn

o   This new program would authorize a competitive grant program to public broadcast stations and/or partners to develop, disseminate, and provide online and on-air education and training services for adults, including adult education, adult literacy, high school equivalency test preparation, workforce training, and related outreach services.

This legislation builds on Congressman Yarmuth’s work to help expand educational opportunities for all ages and ensure American workers remain competitive in the global economy. In 2011, he partnered with the White House to launch Digital Promise, a national initiative focused on researching and implementing cutting-edge technologies in education and workforce training.

He also has continued working to expand Louisvillians’ access to job-training opportunities through free public events such as last month’s Build Your Skills workshop, which paired professionals with job-seekers for one-on-one advice and training.