The education of our children is one of the most important investments we can make to ensure a bright future for our country. As the global marketplace becomes more competitive, it is imperative that we lay the foundation for a more skilled and educated workforce. This requires that we ensure our children receive the best education that is available to them.
As a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I am committed to policies that improve educational opportunities for all of our children. Only through greater access to quality education can we create a path toward greater social and economic mobility and help solve many of the social issues troubling our society.
One of the critical tasks that the House Education and Workforce Committee must complete is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I have heard a great deal about what works and what doesn’t work, but what is clear is that we need to focus on four essential pillars of education reform: accountability, flexibility and local control, funding for what works, and expanded parental options. This includes:
Expanding choice and flexibility in education. I believe that parents and local communities can make the best educational decisions, especially when they are freed from the shackles of federal bureaucracy and entrenched special interests. That’s why I will continue to promote parental choices and local control.
Improving teacher quality. Studies have shown that effective teachers are among the most important factors when it comes to improving student academic achievement. I recognize how important teachers are to overall education reform, and that’s why I will continue to work to strengthen teacher training and reward effective teachers for their success in the classroom.
I have worked alongside my Republican colleagues to reduce loan fees and increase borrowing limits to help families keep pace with rising costs; establish a new grant program for low-income, high-achieving high school students; and reduce federal subsidies to lenders to save taxpayers billions and ensure student aid programs are serving the needs of students first. I believe any responsible reforms should include:
Simplifying college financial aid. To truly make it easier for students to go to college, I believe we must do more than streamline application forms – we must cut through the red tape, increase transparency, and simplify the maze of financial aid programs that have led to today’s daunting process.
Strengthening job training to bolster the economy. In a dynamic, global economy, American workers need to be able to retrain for the careers of the 21st century. I am strongly committed to reforming job training and placement initiatives under the Workforce Investment Act to make services for job seekers more accessible and results-oriented. This is why I introduced The Workforce Investment Improvement Act in the 111th Congress and will again introduce it in the 112th. This is a solid proposal to strengthen job skills training and to help the American workforce prepare for employment and succeed in our ever-changing economy. Modernizing our job training infrastructure has been one of the highest priorities of my work on the committee.
One of my proudest accomplishments is passage of the Higher Education Act reauthorization in the 109th Congress. The purpose of the reauthorization was to make college more affordable, simplify the student aid system and ensure quality. The legislation cut student loan interest rates to their lowest levels in 16 years, increased Pell Grant authorizations and provided incentives to control the costs of higher education.
Of significant importance, the legislation contained a provision that established a Performance Based Organization (PBO) within the Department of Education responsible for running the student financial aid system more like a business. Under the previous system, the Department's budget for informational systems doubled over the last five years, but was still wrapped in miles of red-tape, required dozens of paper forms and suffered from needless processing delays and breakdowns. The organization will be judged on how well it serves parents and students and on how much it saves taxpayers by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.
Too many important education items have been left behind by the past Majority in the 111th Congress. My Republican colleagues and I are committed to focusing our priorities in the 112th Congress on keeping our laws functioning for the betterment of our children.
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