"Head Start is a vital program that levels the playing field for children who need it most. It improves the quality of life for low-income children and families and promises them a brighter future. I was pleased to vote in favor of this much needed bill, and will continue my work to improve our nation's educational resources for those who need it most."
Families across New Jersey are sending their children to college and when they graduate, they should not be saddled with debt... I joined a bipartisan majority in the House in support of legislation that would make college more affordable and offer the single largest investment in college financial assistance since the 1944 GI Bill at no new cost to U.S. taxpayers."
-- Congressman Rob Andrews
Early childhood learning programs are some of the best tools to ensure a student's academic success later on in life. One of the most effective means to promote early childhood education has been the federally funded Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). I am a firm believer in providing children affordable access to early childhood education and I support programs like the CDBG, which allow local childcare centers to provide children a safe, constructive and affordable means for early childhood learning. Additionally, I support giving parents the choice in sending their three and four year-olds to a full day Pre-K program that exists as an extension of the school district.
Elementary and Secondary
One of the biggest challenges facing our local schools is the shortage in funding caused by the need to fund the school district's special education needs. In 1974, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires that public primary and secondary schools provide the necessary special-education services to children with disabilities. That law also promised that the federal share of special education costs would be forty percent however, has never honored that promise. Accordingly, New Jersey residents are forced to bear the cost of these worthwhile but expensive programs in the form of an unreasonable property tax burden because of this lack of federal funding.
I support raising the federal portion of the IDEA funding to the previously promised amount of 40%. In doing so, we would ease the burden felt by local property tax payers while at the same time improving both special education and mainstream programs at our schools.
No Child Left Behind Act
As implemented, The No Child Left Behind Act has failed. A good concept-diagnosing and fixing the problems of struggling schools and students--has failed because the law is underfunded and uses improper measures of performance. Here is how I believe we should fix it:
* Recognize the value of classroom experience in defining a "highly qualified teacher.
* Measure the progress of special education students on appropriate measures integrated into their Individualized Education Program (IEP).
* Provide a fair and reasonable measure of an English Language Learning (ELL) student's development by ensuring they are proficient in English before evaluating these students on the regular test
* Hold the federal government to its promise to fund preschool, reading teachers, homework programs, summer schools, parent academies and all of the other successful strategies suggested or required by No Child Left Behind.
In short, pay for what we mandate.
S.A.T. scores are not the biggest challenge facing students seeking to attend college. Instead, the biggest hurdle for these students is the ability to afford the rising cost of a college education. I believe that we must expand the current federal lending programs to allow more students, greater access to financial aid through increases in programs like the Pell Grant, and the Direct Loan.