Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman Recognizes Great Federal Employee, Wendy Tada

December 10, 2009

   I rise to speak today about my great Federal employee of the week who works at the Department of Education.

   Whenever I enter this hallowed Chamber, I never fail to notice the inspirational words written on each wall above the doors. Above the east door is inscribed the Latin phrase ``Annuit Coeptis,'' or ``Fortune favored Us in Our Beginnings.'' This refers to our Founders' belief that Providence looked kindly upon our Republic during its earliest days.

   In that time, ours was mostly an agrarian society. Town life centered on planting seeds and harvesting crops. Children worked alongside their parents in the field, and when it came to their education, homeschooling or learning to read and add in a one-room schoolhouse was the norm.

   Thomas Jefferson wrote, some years after his Presidency, that ``Science is more important in a republic than in any other government.'' It was this belief in the importance of knowledge and reason--including political and historical literacy--that led education pioneers such as Horace Mann to promote universal schooling in the early part of the 19th century.

   Shortly before the Civil War, access to compulsory and free public education spread across the country as States passed laws inspired by this principle. The Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act provided for the construction of some of our Nation's greatest colleges and universities in the late 1800s. In the early years of the 20th century, States increased access by expanding free, compulsory education to include high school. The last 60 years saw dramatic advances in this area, with the legal desegregation of schools and the passage of critical legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

    I am proud to have been serving in the Senate earlier this year when we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

   That legislation sent much needed funding to fix schools, make student loans more readily available, and to keep teachers in the classroom. The Recovery Act so far saved over 230 teaching jobs in my home State of Delaware alone.

   In 1980, the U.S. Department of Education was created, and its employees have been working tirelessly to make sure students from all 50 States, including Delaware and Rhode Island, receive the same strong support. They oversee the Federal loan programs that enable tens of millions of Americans to afford college and postcollege studies. They help develop policies to ensure that Americans with physical and intellectual disabilities have education programs in their communities and can pursue a full range of opportunities.

   Wendy Tada, who has worked at the Department of Education for 9 years, is one of those outstanding employees. When she arrived at the Department in 2000, Wendy already had a great deal of experience working to expand opportunities for rural special needs students in Hawaii and Alaska.

   Wendy, who is a lifelong learner herself, holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Seattle University, a master's in physical therapy from Stanford, and a master's in public health from San Diego State. She also earned a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of California in San Diego.

   Wendy's experience includes working at the State and local levels. She provided physical therapy to disabled students in Washington State, developed an education curriculum for special needs children in Hawaii and its remote Pacific Islands, and evaluated health and education services in Native Alaskan villages.

   Wendy has taught college and graduate courses in education and public health at the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii.

   Her first job with the Department of Education was as a research analyst in the Office of Special Education Programs. Wendy's talents and experience led to a promotion within a year, when she became Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary overseeing that office. She continued as his top adviser when he was appointed to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education. In 2006, Wendy became the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Education.

   This January, after a brief stint as an education analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, she was asked by the Deputy Secretary of Education to serve as senior adviser for policy and programs.

   During her years in the Department, Wendy has been instrumental in developing important regulations and guidance documents relating to IDEA and title I of the ESEA. Today, her time is spent in developing and putting into practice education programs funded by the Recovery Act.

   One of the central programs under the Recovery Act is the new Race to the Top Fund. This initiative represents the largest Federal competitive investment in elementary and secondary education in our history. It will offer over $4 billion--that is billion--in grants to States to develop comprehensive education reform plans. This will help all States, including Delaware, save even more teaching jobs and add new resources for schools.

   Wendy's work and that of her colleagues throughout the Department of Education continue to benefit American students nationwide. They ensure that all our children are favored in their beginnings so they may pursue the opportunities they deserve. Education is, without a doubt, the most important investment our Nation can make, for its dividends are our future prosperity and global leadership.

   I hope my colleagues will join me in honoring Wendy Tada and all the hard-working employees of the Department of Education for their service to this country. Our future is in their hands.

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