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Rep. Yarmuth Reintroduces Ready to Compete Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) announced reintroduction of the Ready to Compete Act, legislation to 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.

“As we face an ever-changing global economy, we must do all we can to make sure our workforce is prepared and our job market provides every possible opportunity for those seeking work,” said Yarmuth. “The Ready to Compete Act embraces the success of public television and works to help identify and close any potential gap between the workforce of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.”

The Ready to Compete Act would use the reach of public television – which is available in 99 percent of American households – and the 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 legislation 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, 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.

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 legislation.

“Our competitive, global economy demands a more educated workforce, 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 Fast Forward online GED test preparation service and Dropping Back In 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 Association of Public Television Stations is most grateful to Congressman Yarmuth for introducing the Ready To Compete Act, an important legislative initiative that will provide public television’s enormous and valuable educational resources to help learners of all ages compete in the global economy,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler. “For nearly 60 years, public television’s free, universally available, children’s educational content has been proven to close the achievement gap and has helped more than 90 million pre-school age kids get ready to learn and succeed in school. We are delighted that Congressman Yarmuth’s Ready To Compete proposal would broaden the successful and highly effective Ready To Learn program into a comprehensive, early learning services, focused on literacy, math and science.”

The Ready to Compete Act comprises two programs:

Ready to Learn

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.

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.

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

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.