Because public schools educate 90 percent of all American children, Congressman Dingell strongly believes that Congress should do all it can to ensure that our public education system is provided the tools needed to train our children. Public schools are facing serious challenges such as increased enrollment, the need to hire new teachers, aging facilities and changing technology. In the face of these challenges, Congressman Dingell believes we must dedicate ourselves to improving public schools.
School budget cuts are also a huge problem facing our schools. One of the reasons for these state budget cuts is the lack of federal funding for laws like the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The federal government made a deal with the states when Congress passed NCLB in 2001. Congress would set challenging standards, but it would also help the states meet them. The federal government, however, has not come up with its share of the high cost of such a sweeping reform, leaving the states to pick up the tab.
NCLB will expire in 2007 and the 110th Congress will be tasked with reviewing and reauthorizing this important legislation. Although Congressman Dingell does not serve on the Education and Labor Committee, he will be watching carefully to ensure that the reauthorization legislation addresses the concerns of state and local educators.
Another focus for Congressman Dingell is reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA has been temporarily extended five times, and will next expire on June 30, 2007.
The ultimate goal behind the Higher Education Act has always been to improve access to college education for those in greatest need. Today's students are increasingly taking on higher loan debts, working longer hours or in some cases forgoing college altogether. Congressman Dingell believes increasing access to higher education is critical to the development of a highly skilled workforce, which will ensure that America remains competitive in the global marketplace. The 15th District is home to many wonderful universities and colleges: the University of Michigan, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Eastern Michigan University, Monroe Community College, Washtenaw Community College and Wayne County Community College. As the Education and Labor Committee moves forward on the reauthorization of the HEA, Congressman Dingell intends to work with these institutions to make sure that this legislation will make higher education more accessible to the students in the 15th District.