Improving and Supporting Schools

Though I have long been supportive of funding for education, Republican budget proposals continue to contain deep cuts to education.  While I believe Congress must act to manage the deficit, we need a balanced approach that does not impose crippling cuts to vital programs that are linked to American competitiveness.

In this Congress, I am working to fully invest in early education programs, including Head Start, to provide low-come children and their families comprehensive early childhood services. I also strongly support providing maximum funding for ESEA Title I programs and IDEA programs so that school districts can provide a quality education to low-income and disabled students.

For example, I am a cosponsor of the IDEA Full Funding Act [H.R. 551]. Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Act in 1975 to ensure that all students with disabilities can receive an appropriate public education. However, Congress has fallen far short of its pledge to provide funding to cover 40 percent of the costs that school districts incur. The IDEA Full Funding act creates a structure to fully funding IDEA over the next 10 years.

In addition to addressing resource needs, I also support re-examining the way we fund, measure and reward our schools.  We must find better ways to reward teacher excellence and innovation, expand access to technology in the classroom, and enhance curriculums to better prepare students for the demands of a globally competitive economy.

The House and Senate have passed two very different versions of legislation to reauthorize and rewrite No Child Left Behind (PL 107-110). Now, the two bodies must work out the differences between H.R. 5, passed by the House, and S. 1177, passed by the Senate. We must work so that the good things brought about by No Child Left Behind stay in the law, and make the overly prescriptive accountability measures more flexible. I am hopeful that these negotiations will produced legislation that keeps in mind the real needs of students, teachers, and administrators.

For more information on what Michigan is doing, visit the Michigan Department of Education’s website. For more information on what’s happening in Congress, visit the House Education & the Workforce Committee’s website.

(April 13, 2016)