As a former school teacher, I am very familiar with the challenges in our classrooms. You will be pleased to know that I support increased flexibility in parent choice, coupled with greater accountability in our school system. I believe our local school boards, not the federal government, are better equipped to assess the needs and the future of our schools and our students.
Education for American children is one of my top priorities. There is no question that education is the key not only to individual opportunity, but also to our competitiveness as a nation. The government's role should be to encourage families to get the best quality education for their children; however, the government should not make the decisions parents should be making for their children.
I have consistently supported our teachers, who have one of the most important jobs in our nation. I am committed to having safe schools, well educated teachers, and children who are well prepared to be the leaders of tomorrow.
The United States has made great strides in secondary school participation during the last century. Yet more than 25 percent of first-year high school students do not receive their diploma in four years. By age 24, more than one in 10 still do not have a high school degree or its equivalent. We need to do more to reduce school dropout rates, and help our kids be better prepared to enter the workforce or attend college after they graduate from high school.
Most programs of federal aid to K-12 education are authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
Debates over reauthorization of the ESEA are likely to focus on the following overarching issues: (1) What has been the impact of the substantial expansion of standards-based assessments of pupil achievement required under the ESEA, and should these requirements be expanded further to include additional subjects and/or grade levels? (2) Are adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements appropriately focused on improving education for disadvantaged pupil groups and identifying low-performing schools? (3) Have the program improvements, corrective actions, and restructuring required under the ESEA for schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) that fail to meet AYP standards for two consecutive years or more been effectively implemented, and have they significantly improved achievement levels among pupils in the affected schools? (4) Will states meet the requirement that all public school teachers (and many paraprofessionals) be "highly qualified" and that well-qualified teachers are equitably distributed across schools and LEAs? (5) Should ESEA programs be funded at levels closer to the maximum authorized amounts, and at what levels, if any, should authorizations be set for years beyond FY2008? (6) Should the ESEA place greater emphasis on enhancing the nation's international competitiveness in science, mathematics, and foreign language achievement? (7) The NCLB, with its numerous new or substantially expanded requirements for participating states and LEAs, initiated a major increase in federal involvement in basic aspects of public K-12 education. Should the active federal role in K-12 education embodied in the NCLB be maintained?
If you are a teacher, a parent, or a student with suggestions on how Congress can improve K-12 education and the No Child Left Behind Act please contact me at http://kaygranger.house.gov, or call my office at 202-225-5071. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
The rising cost of attending U.S. colleges and universities is a growing concern, as most Americans believe that college is out of financial reach for qualified students. College tuition and fees have been rising more rapidly than household income over the past two decades. In 2005-2006, the average price charged for tuition, fees, room, and board at four-year public and private institutions was $17,447 -- a 577 percent increase from 30 years ago.
Historically, congressional involvement with issues of college costs and prices has focused on issues related to student access to postsecondary education. However, as Congress has considered the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), attention has been given to additional actions that could be taken at the federal level to address college costs and prices. Actions considered have included creating price indices, providing incentives for controlling costs, making it easier for students to earn college credits, reducing regulatory burden, and increasing the availability of relevant public information.
As this debate continues, you can be sure that my top priority will be ensuring that all Americans who want to seek higher education have a reasonable opportunity to do so.