Issue Position: Education Excellence
Congressman Kirk broke from his party and backed full funding for special education and Impact Aid for military kids. He even started his own program for gifted kids here in northern Illinois.
As a former school teacher, Congressman Kirk has made education a priority. He has honored our 10th District tradition of education excellence. His efforts include:
Enhancing Local Control
Congressman Kirk formed an Education Advisory Board led by local education leaders to get expert advice on our community's needs. With recommendations from this Board, the Congressman introduced legislation to reform aspect of the No Child Left Behind law to better serve our kids and local schools.
Congressman Kirk feels that the first-hand experience and knowledge of parents is extremely valuable in helping to improve the safety and education of our children so he also formed the Parent Advisory Board. This group has discussed a wide range of issues including: bullying, greening our schools and rising college tuition costs. Composed of Parent Teacher Organization Presidents and other parent representatives from the 10th District, this group has shared great insights into the problems facing our local communities.
Providing Help for Children of Military Parents
In 2007, Congress passed Kirk legislation to guarantee federal impact aid for North Chicago schools and to increase federal aid for Highwood, Highland Park and Glenview schools. Kirk's bipartisan legislation raised federal education assistance from $600 per student to approximately $6,000 per student, a total of over $9 million for these impacted communities.
Establishing a Laureate Program for Gifted Students
Congressman Kirk's Tenth District Laureates Program is backed by teachers and experts from his Education Advisory Board and provides highly-focused education opportunities to seventh grade gifted students from local schools. The program challenges gifted students to rise to their full potential.
Enacting 401 Kids Family Savings Accounts
Illinois families have deposited almost $2 billion in 529 College Savings Accounts since 2000, expanding higher education opportunities to the 135,000 students who will use these funds. Unless Congress acts, this successful program will come to an end in 2012. That's why Congressman Kirk co-authored the 401 Kids Family Savings Act to ensure that Illinois families can continue to save for college.
Greening our Schools
In order to promote green building and help local schools get access to funding for greening initiatives, Congressman Kirk introduced the Green Schools Act. This legislation requires the Administrator of the EPA to establish a grant program to provide up to $10,000 to a school district per project for green school construction and improvements.
Making College more Affordable
Congressman Kirk understands the importance of making college more affordable and more accessible for families in the 10th district. He voted in favor of the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 and the College Student Relief Act in order to reduce borrowers' reliance on private college loans, cut the interest rates on subsidized student loans in half -from the current 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent and give parent borrowers more time to pay off federal PLUS college loans. Congressman Kirk also supported the College Opportunity and Affordability Act to encourage colleges to limit price increases for tuition, restore accountability to student loan programs, and simplify the student aid application process.