Issue Position: Education
Like you, I want Delaware's school system to be the best that it can be. That was my goal when I served as governor and remains so today in the U.S. Senate. As governor, I emphasized the importance of rigorous standards and raising student achievement. I also instituted optional training for parents to give them and their children more choices in education by championing public school choice and the creation of charter schools.
Addressing Failing Schools When I came to the Senate in 2001, I was convinced that much of what had been accomplished in Delaware in the area of education reform could serve as a model for the rest of America. That's why the very first bill I introduced, the Empowering Parents Act, provided more options for parents whose children were in failing schools. It encouraged communities with low-performing schools to experiment with universal public school choice and helped leverage financing for new charter school start-ups. The Empowering Parents Act was included in the No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in January 2002 and is currently scheduled for reauthorization.
We must make sure that lessons learned in schools and classrooms across this great country provide our children with the foundation they need to have a successful future. Therefore, I will always strive to make certain that our school systems provide the best educational opportunities available.
Higher Education We can all agree that education does not end with high school, but since 2001, the cost of college has increased by more than 40 percent. That's why I worked to pass the bi-partisan College Cost Reduction and Access Act in 2007. This legislation takes a step towards reducing the cost of college by increasing the Pell Grant, cutting federal student loan interest rates in half, granting loan forgiveness for students who perform public service for 10 years, and increasing funding for minority-serving colleges and universities. This was a good first step towards reducing the cost of college, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to further close the affordability gap.
Mentoring As a longtime mentor myself, I truly believe there's no greater way to make a difference in the life of a child. Mentoring programs are not only advantageous to our students in terms of their intellectual and social development, but they are also deeply rewarding to the advisors. Delaware has shown communities across the country the power of mentoring for quite a while. I have helped recruit thousands of mentors as part of a statewide effort to help at-risk children and foster academic achievement. Such programs are integral part of our school system in Delaware.
As my colleagues and I consider legislation that impacts the educational future of our children, I will continue to support initiatives that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our public school system, and the affordability and accessibility of higher education across the nation.