Congressman Sessions believes that education is first, last and always about our children. Every child, regardless of family income, should have the right to a quality education. We need to increase the role of parents in the day-to-day education of their children and decrease the role of Washington.
It is a widely-shared sentiment that schools need to do a better job of preparing students for the workplace. Federal spending for public education has increased in the last few decades, however, we are constantly faced with signs that we are failing in our mission to educate our nation's children. Recent studies have proved that American students, when tested against the rest of the world, are consistently ranked near the bottom in math and the sciences. This atrocity should not be happening in our country. Congressman Sessions believes that the federal government should get out of the education business and give the power to the state and local authorities who best know the curriculum.
Congressman Sessions is a national leader on the effort to return educational decision-making to parents, teachers, and local school administrators. Congressman Sessions has strongly supported legislation to requires that 95% of all federal education dollars be spent in the classroom--not on regulation and bureaucracy in Washington, DC.
In May of 2007, he joined U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to present a $25 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant to the University of Texas to implement a performance-based compensation system to address problems with teacher recruitment and retention in 27 high-need schools in seven Texas school districts. The TIF is a key part of the President's plan to increase student achievement levels, and centers around goals of improving student success and recruiting and retaining high quality teachers.
In addition, as the parent of a child with Down syndrome, Congressman Sessions understands that each child has unique needs. He is a passionate advocate and leader in Congress for people with disabilities. Congressman Sessions worked tirelessly to pass the Family Opportunity Act, which gives states the option to create a Medicaid "buy in" for families of children with disabilities whose family income or resources are up to 300% of federal poverty level. Signed into law in 2006, this landmark legislation fixes the Medicaid "Catch-22' that forces many families to make difficult choices, like foregoing a needed pay increase, just to qualify for Medicaid assistance.
In addition to his leadership with disability issues on Capitol Hill, Congressman Sessions works in the 32nd district to support other parents of special needs children and has led numerous forums on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), helping parents understand the opportunities for their child's educational development.
Congressman Sessions has also played a central role in supporting Down syndrome medical research at the National Institutes of Health as well as in the private sector. As a board member of Best Buddies International and Advisor to the President for Special Olympics Texas, he continues to work for increased development and social participation for individuals with disabilities.
Congressman Sessions' work has earned him accolades locally and nationally. In 2007, he was featured as the Honoree at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Gala. In 2004, the NDSS presented him the Outstanding Leadership Award. Other awards include the Leadership Award from the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Visionary Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.