As a father of two and a former member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I understand the importance of ensuring that our youngest citizens receive a quality education. I have long been committed to the improvement of the education system in our nation and believe that an educated workforce means a stronger and more stable economy. Moreover, a proper education is necessary for success in today’s world. One of my greatest pleasures is hearing from and speaking to Southwest Michigan students.
Reforming our Education System
I supported the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the outdated No Child Left Behind legislation with commonsense, bipartisan reforms - marking the first time since 2002 we had updated federal K-12 education laws. Among the reforms, the legislation, which was signed into law, will reduce the federal role in K-12 education to give more flexibility to local and state officials as well as provide individual school districts with more flexibility. It also removes the high stakes federal consequences for annual assessments and empowers parents by providing more information about local school performances.
Making Higher Education More Affordable
The costs of sending a child to college places a tremendous financial burden on any family. To keep higher education affordable for all Americans, I have been a strong supporter of federal need-based financial aid programs that help remove the obstacles that stand in the way of a degree.
I was proud to support the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act (H.R. 1911), which moves all federal student loans (except for Perkins loans) to a market-based interest rate, as opposed to a fixed rate that is arbitrarily chosen by Congress. Based on the current Treasury note, H.R. 1911 will help reduce interest rates for millions of student loan borrowers. Taking the politics out of student loans is good news for students, parents, and taxpayers. This bipartisan legislation was signed into law in past Congresses.
Supporting Math and Science Education
Today in the United States, we are witnessing a disturbing trend in K-12 education, as students from other countries are outperforming our own in math and science education. At the same time, we are also facing a critical shortage of qualified teachers in the sciences. To address this national deficiency, I have supported efforts that will aid future college graduates as they pursue a career as an educator of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), as well as retain teachers once they are in the field.
I am also a long-time supporter of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics programs which promote STEM education.
Since first being elected to Congress, I have been an outspoken champion of the Head Start program. In my numerous visits to Head Start centers throughout Southwest Michigan, I have been consistently impressed with the teachers, parents, and especially the children themselves. I have stood by Head Start centers to ensure that our most disadvantaged children have the resources available for a first-rate education.