Improving and Supporting Schools

In December 2015, Congress completed the task of reconsidering the federal law governing K-12 education and passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with broad bipartisan agreement. Unfortunately, since then, Republicans have taken actions to undermine K-12 public education. Secretary DeVos has declined to support the rights and protections afforded to students with disabilities and slashed education funding across the board.

Both the Trump and House Republicans’ fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget eliminated the Title II-A grant program, which supports professional development and hiring of teachers to decrease class sizes. I joined with scores of other Members to express my dismay at the cuts for that program. You can read the full letter [DE1] that we sent to our colleagues in the House.

The ESSA also included a restricting of the many grants that the federal government gives out to schools. Most of grants were consolidated into one large grant in order to provide locally-tailored programming, called the Student Support and Academic Achievement formula grant program. This program enables schools to support programs such as school-based mental health programs, drug and violence prevention, and well-rounded learning opportunities. After supporting the creation of this program, Republicans have not been supportive of adequately funding it. I signed this letter earlier this year in support of providing this funding to schools.

I am also deeply concerned about federal support for Title I funding, which supports low-income and poor schools, and IDEA, which provides federal funding to support education for students with disabilities. In addition, I am working to fully invest in early education programs, including head Start, which provides low-income children and families comprehensive early childhood services. In the new Trump era, we must be especially vigilant to ensure that traditionally underserved populations have the services they need in order to excel and close the achievement gap.

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.

(October 2017)