Issue Position: Preparing Our Children for the Future - Education Reform
In 2001, I joined with a group of moderate Democrats to introduce the Public Education Reinvestment, Reinvention and Responsibility Act -- better known as "Three Rs." In the 107th Session, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the "Leave No Child Behind Act," legislation that incorporates many provisions from our proposal. Specifically, the new law combines real reform, real accountability, and real resources to ensure that our children receive the best education possible.
Like the "Three Rs" bill, the "Leave No Child Behind Act" paves the way to significantly increase Federal funding for education. But this bill also makes sure that more of those dollars are targeted to the students and schools who need them the most.
In addition to increased funding and targeting, the bill grants more flexibility to States and school districts in using their Federal funds to meet their own needs, without jeopardizing Title I funding that is critical to serving disadvantaged students.
Finally, the new law incorporates many of the strong accountability provisions called for in "Three Rs." It ensures that schools and districts are making demonstrable gains in closing the achievement gap between low-income and more affluent students. And in addition to requiring tough corrective actions for chronically failing schools, it gives students in those schools the right to either transfer to a better public school or obtain supplemental services. It also requires States and school districts to publish meaningful report cards on the status of their schools and expands public school choice options for families.
While education reform has been enacted, it is now important that Congress approve enough funding each year to make the new reforms work. I have been disappointed by the Administration's education budget requests since the reforms were enacted. The Leave No Child Behind Act will only be effective if it is well funded. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have fought to ensure schools receive sufficient resources.
I know that by working together, we can invest in our nation's children and ensure their future success and, ultimately, the success of America.