MR. REED: Thank you, Mr. President.

I rise today joined by my colleague, Senator Whitehouse, to honor a friend, Paul Crowley, a Rhode Island State Representative, who distinguished himself through an extraordinary career as a civic leader in the state of Rhode Island.

Paul passed away on September 24, 2007, after serving nearly 27 years as a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Indeed, I had the privilege and pleasure of serving with Paul years ago.

He was a friend to me. He was a source of wise counsel, and he was someone that was universally admired for his commitment, particularly his commitment to children.

Paul's passion was to try to reform the educational system of Rhode Island. And he brought that passion with him every day to the Statehouse in Providence.

He was someone who was unafraid of taking on anybody when it came to helping children perform better in school. And it wasn't just confrontation for the sake of confrontation. It was constructive, robust debate, always with the focus on improving the opportunities for children to learn in our state so they could take those skills and build strong families, a strong community, and a great nation.

Paul is a contemporary. He was born, as I was, in 1949. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1973, and was first elected as a Democrat from Newport in 1981.

He has more than any one person in Rhode Island profoundly shaped education policy for our state.

As I said, he took it upon himself with a passion, with a commitment, with a sense that this country is all about opportunity and the greatest engine of opportunity for Americans is good public education.

He was an unstinting advocate. He was someone that really understood the nature of the educational process. He worked ceaselessly, tirelessly. He bore the frustrations of public service with the sense of purpose, and at the end of his career, he could look back with profound changes for the better in the education system of Rhode Island.

He was way ahead of his time in terms of emphasizing school accountability, standard space reform, measuring student progress. Years before these ideas were fully embraced and supported at the federal level, Paul was talking about them at the state level and leading a statewide reform effort.

He was committed to making sure that education was available for all of our citizens regardless of race, background, or income, that they would have access to a high-quality public education as a foundation to higher education.

He was also an advocate for career and technical education, understanding that one size doesn't fit all, that the essence of education is finding the talent in that child and giving that child the opportunity to use the talent. And for many, it is career and technical education.

He understood that in this new global economy, Americans couldn't stand back when it came to education. They had to be better than they were before, better than the rest of the world. And he fought for that vigorously and tirelessly.

He was someone that understood it very well and every day gave his all so that every child in our state would have a better chance to make the progress that is the essence of this country and seize all its opportunity.

Paul's greatest passion, however, was for his family, his wife, Diana, and their three children, Meredith, Matthew, and Edward.

And his family is a reflection of all the values he stood for, honesty, decency, effort, success, and community spirit, reaching out to help others.

All of these good people do it every day. They're inspired and sustained by his example.

And also high among his cherished ideas was his Irish heritage.

Paul looked like the map of Ireland with a shock of white hair and his great complexion and -- complexion and great tenor voice.

He would remind us of all the great poets of Ireland and great dreamers of Ireland. But like many of them, he transformed the poems and the dreams into real action.

And today we come to this floor to praise him, to thank him, to let his family know what they already know -- he has won the esteem and the love of his neighbors in Rhode Island, richly deserved for a life well spent serving others.