Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the important bill before us today, the Every Child Achieves Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and fixes No Child Left Behind.   I also rise today to talk about the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is also a very important matter for our country. 

I thank Senators Alexander and Murray for their great leadership in crafting a bipartisan bill that makes critical updates to No Child Left Behind that will help ensure that all students receive a quality education. They worked together from the very beginning on this important bill, and I think the results show how important it is.  I come to the floor to talk about three amendments in this bill.

The Presiding Officer is a cosponsor on one of the amendments, which is about STEM education. I think we all know that in today's global economy, education is key to our economic prosperity. The Senator from North Dakota understands that because our two States, North Dakota and Minnesota, have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.   We have exciting economies with technological jobs to fill. We are two States that make and invent products which we then export to the world.

To keep doing that, America's next generation of innovators will have to be highly trained and highly skilled. We certainly see this in my State. According to the Minnesota High Tech Association, Minnesota will be home to nearly 200,000 technology jobs in the next decade. Part of this is getting young people engaged at an early age.  Today's high school students aren't just competing against students in Milwaukee and Miami, they are competing against students in Munich and Mumbai. If America is going to keep its spot atop the world's high-tech hierarchy, students in our country must receive the best training and education we can provide. That is why Senator Hoeven and I are working to increase the emphasis on STEM education. 

The Klobuchar-Hoeven amendment, modeled after our Innovate America  Act, will expand STEM opportunities for more students by allowing school districts to use existing Federal STEM funding to create STEM specialty schools or to enhance existing STEM programs within the schools. Our provision will also ensure that the Department of Education is aligning STEM programs and resources with the needs of school districts and teachers. I understand that it is in the managers' package, and I thank the two leaders for that.  The second amendment is the improving teacher and principal retention.

The Every Child Achieves Act includes important reforms to improve the quality of education for students in Indian Country. One challenge that schools serving Native Americans continue to confront is the high rate of teacher and principal turnover and the instability it causes. Turnover hurts school districts with the added cost of rehiring and retraining, and it hurts kids as teachers come and go.  One way to decrease teacher and principal turnover is to boost the professional development these teachers receive. Inadequate professional development and the lack of ongoing support are some of the key reasons why some of our best teachers are leaving. That is why Senator Murkowski of Alaska and I have been pushing a provision to improve teacher and principal retention in schools serving American Indian and Alaska Native students. Specifically, our amendment adds mentoring and teacher support programs, including instructional support from tribal elders and cultural experts, to improve the professional development that teachers and principals in Indian schools receive. This is also in the managers' package, and we appreciate that.

The next amendment deals with chronic absenteeism. We know students can't learn if they are not in school. When I was a prosecutor in Hennepin County, I developed a major truancy initiative to keep kids in school and out of the courtroom. My office worked closely with local schools on a faster, more effective response to truancy problems. That is why my provision in the Every Child Achieves Acts will provide professional development and training to schools to help ensure that teachers, principals, and other school leaders have the knowledge and skills necessary to address issues related to chronic absenteeism.

 Truancy is sometimes called the kindergarten of crime because it is truly an early risk factor. I still remember looking at the files of serious juvenile offenders--ones who committed homicide and the like--and I realized the first indication that there was a real problem was truancy. It doesn't just hit in high school; it actually usually hits in sixth and seventh grade. The more we can do to put a focus on this, the better off we will be not only for public safety but, of course, for the kids' lives.  I again thank Senator Murray and Senator Alexander for their tremendous work on this bill.