I join the Obama Administration and many of my colleagues in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Before 1970, over one million students with disabilities were excluded from public schools. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates, today over six million children are served through special education programs in public schools.
While we take this week to celebrate the progress of students with disabilities, we cannot slow down. Although students with disabilities are seeing greater success in K-12, there are still many barriers in terms of ensuring a smooth transition to inclusive postsecondary education and employment. This week I sent a letter to the Department of Education requesting increased access to information and improved data collection for students with disabilities so there are fewer obstacles to success in college.
While the current online federal resources to help students navigate the college decision process are helpful, none exist for students with disabilities. By making small changes to the existing surveys from the Department of Education, we can help students and families access more information about disability services on campus.
I extend my best wishes to those Pennsylvanians celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. We should all work to exemplify the values this holiday celebrates: charity, selflessness, and sacrifice for the greater good. This is also a time to redouble efforts to seek peace and stability in areas of the world torn by conflict.
Unfortunately today has also become a day of mourning. My thoughts and prayers are with those effected by the terrible disaster that killed hundreds of the faithful who had journeyed to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage this year.
I wish all Pennsylvanians observing Yom Kippur a meaningful holiday. During reflection on the year behind us and the year before us, I hope all those celebrating will seek ways to strengthen our communities and our Commonwealth and to embody the values of respect and forgiveness. During these holidays, I am especially mindful of the special relationship between our country and our friend and partner, the State of Israel. I am grateful for the many important contributions of Pennsylvania's vibrant Jewish community and wish those celebrating a Happy New Year.
Today marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, lasting until October 15. I am proud to be a cosponsor of two Senate resolutions recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Latinos in the United States. Hispanic Americans are the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the U.S. overall and in at least 22 individual states, representing more than 55 million people (17.4% of the U.S. population). The Hispanic Heritage Month resolution recognizes the integral role of Latinos in the economy, culture, and identity of the United States. The second resolution, the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Resolution, recognizes the achievements and goals of the 409 HSIs in the United States. HSIs represent 12% of non-profit colleges and universities, yet enroll 59% of all Latino students. They are located in 21 states (and Puerto Rico) and expand access to a college education for the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority group.
Let us also take this month to recognize the achievements and contributions the Hispanic community has made to the United States and Pennsylvania. Hispanics have played a vital role in strengthening and enriching Pennsylvania’s economy, culture, and identity. I look forward to working together on issues important to our Commonwealth, and continuing to build stronger communities and promote economic advancement for thousands of young people and their families.
I offer my best wishes to all those Pennsylvanians celebrating Rosh Hashanah. This important holiday marks the start of the Jewish High Holidays and the beginning of a New Year.
This year, more than ever, we should all recommit ourselves to the values celebrated on Rosh Hashanah. As we reflect on renewal, compassion, and charity, I hope that we can find it within ourselves to extend a hand to our neighbors and others during their critical hour of need. Too many Pennsylvanians still struggle to make ends meet for their families.
Rosh Hashanah also brings hope that the new year will see greater prosperity and peace for people around the world. This is a time to redouble our efforts to promote Israel's security in an increasingly volatile Middle East. I wish for peace, stability, and prosperity for the people in this conflict-torn region.
I am proud to represent Pennsylvania's vibrant Jewish community, which contributes so much to the greatness of our Commonwealth During this holiday, I applaud your commitment to the values that form the foundations of the Jewish faith. L'Shanah Tovah.