The issue of Education is important to our district and to my work in Congress.
Education is a cornerstone of democracy. Throughout my time in Congress, I fought for and supported measures to improve public schools and make higher education more affordable for all. While our education system is largely under local control, I am committed to finding the proper balance between the states and federal government, to encourage equality and opportunity. I strongly believe that no matter a person’s income or zip code, access to an excellent education should be a right.
As a member of Congress, I was proud to help increase the maximum Pell award from $4,731 in 2008 to $5,550 today. Pell grants have provided over $35.7 billion to almost 10 million undergraduate students in 2011.
We made our education spending go further by ending subsidies for banks that act as middlemen for federal student loans.
I was also proud to support a tax credit that provides up to $2,500 per year – that’s $10,000 over four years – to help students and their families pay for tuition, fees and books. An estimated 9.4 million families are expected to claim this tax credit for 2011.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
While I appreciate the intent of No Child Left Behind, the time has come to improve the law. I support fixing NCLB in a way that balances accountability and flexibility. We must have measures that truly capture achievement gaps and evaluate teachers fairly. I support multiple assessment measures to form a broad view of student learning and programs which give teachers and administrators opportunities for professional development, training, and collaboration.
While NCLB intended to guarantee the success of all students, it focused too narrowly on standardized testing and today discrepancies in achievement still exist. I am deeply concerned by the number of African-American and Latino students falling through the cracks. In order to accomplish any of the reforms that we seek, we must commit to investing in education. We cannot demand more from our schools while providing them with less. Meaningful reform will include teachers, administrators, and parents in this essential dialogue. We must respect their authority in their children’s and students’ lives.
Higher Education/Pell Grants/Financial Aid
I have always believed in the importance of higher education and have fought to make it more affordable. In the Democratic-led 111th Congress, I was proud to cosponsor the College Cost Reduction Act that helped to make higher education more affordable. This legislation was the single largest investment enacted in over 60 years to help students pay for college. I continue to advocate for increased funding for the Pell Grant program and financial aid reforms. As our economy continues to shift, a college degree is more important than ever before. Even in these difficult financial times, no qualified student should be turned away because of his or her inability to pay. We must work to ensure that our institutions of higher learning are accessible to all of our young people.
For information regarding student financial aid please visit my Student Information page.