Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Senator Ted Kaufman Featured in Los Angeles Times and Education Week

January 14, 2010

Kaufman Connection - Highlights of Ted s work for Delaware


Senator Kaufman has visited Afghanistan twice this year

Senator Ted Kaufman Featured in Los Angeles Times and Education Week

Two op-eds by Ted have been published recently in the Los Angeles Times and Education Week.

Also, make sure to tune in this week to watch Ted on TV!

Thursday, January 14, at 6 & 11 p.m.: “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer on CNBC

Friday, January 15, at 7:35 a.m.: “Morning Joe” on MSNBC

Los Angeles Times
A broad 'shield' for journalists
Congress must protect the press, in its many forms, to ensure a full democracy.
By Ted Kaufman

The case for a federal media "shield" law is simple: Reporters must be protected so they can give citizens the information they need, particularly information that powerful interests would rather keep secret. Whistle-blowers and other insiders -- without a meaningful promise of confidentiality from journalists -- would be less willing to expose wrongdoing, both in and out of government.

The ability of journalists to protect their sources is, simply put, a fundamental pillar of our democracy and liberty.

In a perfect world, all sources could speak without fear of reprisal. But we don't live in that world, and examples abound of scandals that were unearthed only with the help of confidential information. Consider the recent cases concerning the inexcusable treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, accounting fraud at Enron, the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball or the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. There's also the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers. And of course there's Watergate. The information that brought down a president was supplied by the most famous of confidential sources -- "Deep Throat" -- who exposed crime and corruption only because he knew he could count on the reporters' promise that they would protect his anonymity.

States understand the idea -- 49 plus the District of Columbia guard a journalist's ability to shield sources.

But we don't have a shield law that applies in federal court. And in recent years, we've seen more instances of judges -- at the behest of aggressive federal prosecutors and private lawyers in federal lawsuits -- compelling journalists to reveal their sources.

As the Senate works to craft a shield law, one crucial issue is determining who is a journalist. In other words, whose promises of confidentiality deserve protection?

For me, it's always instructive to go back to the founders when addressing questions like these. Who did they have in mind when they drafted a 1st Amendment that wisely gave broad protection to "freedom of the press"?

The answer surely includes pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine. Throughout the revolutionary era, countless citizen-journalists like Paine, operating on street corners in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, informed the public, exposed and challenged corruption, and indeed inspired the American Revolution. That experience must inform whom we consider deserving of the shield.

Today's critics miss the mark when they argue that unless we sharply limit who counts as a "covered person" under a shield law, then irresponsible bloggers, freelancers and others will claim protection they don't deserve.

Though not all bloggers are potential candidates for a Pulitzer Prize -- indeed, some are terribly irresponsible -- as a group they are today's street-corner pamphleteers, protecting our freedom and strengthening our democracy. Their predecessors in the founding generation surely would have understood the dangers in allowing Congress, or the executive, to deny the law's protection to whole categories of journalists based simply on their employment status or the medium in which they work. We in government must not permit our aversion to criticism, or our hostility to a particular message, to dictate who's in and who's out.

A free press, like free elections, is essential to a robust democracy. Around the world, we see governments bent on repression doing all they can to intimidate and control journalists. Tragically, that repression sometimes takes the form of literally shooting the messenger. The number of journalists slain worldwide climbed steadily from 2001 through 2007.

Usually the techniques of repression are more subtle. Whether it is the insidious use of defamation laws to throw journalists in jail, or the denial of press credentials to reporters seen as a threat to power, or repeated assaults and harassment of reporters, these regimes do all they can to create a climate of fear and self-censorship.

Here at home the founders well understood the importance of a free press to check the abuse of power. As Thomas Jefferson said: "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."

Freedom of the press does not come without cost. If we wanted to make law enforcement as easy as possible, we would not have a shield law. We'd also jettison the privilege against self-incrimination, and the protection of communications between lawyers and clients, penitents and clerics, doctors and patients, and husbands and wives.

The Free Flow of Information Act, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 10, springs from the central principles of the 1st Amendment and should be passed without delay. Our founders understood, and we should reaffirm, that the key to a free society is a free press.

Education Week
STEM Education: A Race to the Top
By Edward E. Kaufman

In a recent speech, former President Bill Clinton compared the United States today to the European Union in the 1990s. During that period, he said, many EU countries were creating “a slew of new jobs in energy.” Notably ahead of the green-revolution curve, they now have the strong, growing employment in green jobs we hope to launch with new initiatives and much innovation

If America is to rebuild its economy, it must develop new opportunities with room for growth.

This means creating green jobs to produce safe water, clean, renewable energy, and other aids to environmental sustainability. It means producing biomedical jobs that help us discover life-saving cures for diseases, jobs in science and technology that lead to creative new ways to deliver old products and services more efficiently—and to communicate with and educate people across the globe.

Training the next generation of young people to pursue these important careers begins with graduating more students skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or the STEM subjects.

STEM fields are absolutely critical to the nation’s continued economic recovery, and to our economic competitiveness well into the future. Engineers and scientists have always been, and always will be, the world’s problem-solvers. They are the professionals who will help us innovate, and create the new products and industries that bring with them the jobs of the future.

As a former engineer, I’ve taken great pride in the fact that I have the opportunity to advocate in the U.S. Senate for a renewed educational emphasis on science and innovation. I’ve been able to introduce legislation to coordinate federal STEM education programming, and help secure much-needed funding to help women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas pursue STEM careers. But the task will take more from all of us.

According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, just 4 percent of American college graduates have a major in engineering, compared with 13 percent of European students and 20 percent of Asian students. We cannot tackle the immense challenges the nation faces without training and inspiring more students to pursue these academic disciplines and enter STEM careers—and we must do this before they leave the K-12 education pipeline.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competitive-grant program recognizes the urgency. The $4 billion in available funding already has spurred states nationwide to focus on core reform areas, including STEM education. By including a competitive preference for states with a demonstrated emphasis in this area—worth 3 percent of a state’s total application score—Race to the Top provides a direct incentive for states to make STEM education a priority in their schools.

In fact, the National Governors Association, along with several foundations, nonprofits, and government entities, recently held a “resource conference” for states on the STEM preference in the Race to the Top program. Representatives from 30 states attended, including from my home state of Delaware. Education remains a local issue, but the Race to the Top STEM preference provides an example of the kind of catalytic effect the federal government can have on education at the state and local levels.

President Barack Obama’s "Educate to Innovate" campaign, moreover, builds on the type of public-private collaboration we will need to bolster STEM education. The campaign is a nationwide effort of private companies, universities, foundations, nonprofits, and science and engineering societies—working with the federal government—to improve student performance in STEM subjects. As part of this effort, business leaders and nonprofits will be joining forces to identify and then help replicate successful STEM programs across the country.

Time Warner Cable and the Coalition for Science After School, for example, are creating an online directory of STEM after-school programs. Other STEM-focused organizations will be teaming up with local volunteers to host National Lab Days. And President Obama has announced a commitment from public universities to prepare 10,000 new math and science teachers annually by 2015.

The Race to the Top program and the Educate to Innovate campaign together have the potential to raise the amount of investment and attention given to STEM education—to a level that American students deserve. That, in turn, is what the jobs of the future will require.

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