"Knowledge is power." Thomas Jefferson, January 1820
Most people understand the importance of education to their lives, but unfortunately, not everyone has the same educational opportunities. Government can have an important role to play in improving education for all citizens. Sometimes the real question is who is in the best position to determine what improvements are to be made and how they'll be implemented?
There are many who believe that the federal government should be more involved in determining what happens in our nation's schools. I disagree. While the federal government can certainly play a role in funding educational opportunities for students and determining national priorities, it shouldn't be involved in determining a day-to-day classroom curriculum or where a local community spends it educational dollars.
I firmly believe that parents and local and state officials are in the best position to determine what is needed in their school system. Washington D.C. is hundreds of miles in distance from North Alabama and light years away in terms of understanding the area's educational needs. Why would we want some federal department in Washington determining our educational agenda?
The answer is we don't.
While educational reform is needed, it needs to begin at the local and state level. Schools need qualified teachers in the classroom. They need the financial resources for computers and other teaching aids that will be critical to our children's development. I'm committed to doing my part in Washington to provide the necessary support while protecting the rights of local communities and leaders in determining their educational future.
H.R. 17, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2007: It has long been the policy of our federal government to make sure that local governments are not harmed when federal lands are established in their area. National forests and parks are a great asset for an area, but can also be a drain on resources because federal lands come off the property tax rolls.
I originally supported this program in 1999 and have again co-sponsored reauthorization legislation this year. We need a bill that is fair to Alabama and our schools enacted as soon as possible. There is no higher priority that the education of our children, and the federal government should pay its fair share.