* Empowering parents and those closest to our students to build a world-class education at a time of increasing international competition.
* Working to fulfill the promise of higher standards, while advocating much needed reforms to No Child Left Behind and strengthening the autonomy of families, teachers, local school districts and states.
* Driving down sky-rocketing college costs through increased transparency and accessibility.
Education serves an integral role in both our lives and in our society. In order to maintain our competitive edge in the international marketplace and give all young Americans an equal opportunity to realize their highest aspirations, I believe that education in America is in desperate need of renewal.
Indeed, that commitment to education has been reflected in the increases we have seen in spending at the Department of Education over the past ten years. It is imperative that we allocate our resources in the most efficient manner possible and do not simply hope that spending more money on education without innovative solutions and greater accountability will improve our educational system.
Enacted in 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) highlights greater parental involvement in education, targets more federal education resources to schools that need the most assistance, and increases accountability for our nation's schools. As a result of NCLB, the federal government is now spending far more money for elementary and secondary education than at any other time in American history. For these unprecedented levels of spending, I do not believe we are achieving the results that have been sought.
In an effort to reform NCLB and federal education policy, I have been a vocal supporter of the bipartisan A-PLUS Act. This initiative seeks to improve student achievement by empowering those in the best position to make curriculum decisions: parents, teachers, the school districts, and states. Many educators and parents have expressed frustration with the numerous federal requirements that have come with NCLB funding. The A-PLUS Act allows local school districts to implement their own, individual education plans. While still allowing for federal support, it would provide States freedom from the onerous one-size-fits-all mandates. Accountability would remain an integral part of this legislation, while the most critical decisions would be made by educators who are closest to the students, rather than bureaucrats in Washington.
I am also an advocate of making our world-class higher education system more affordable. In a time of increasing globalization and competition from abroad, our universities provide an important comparative advantage. With Wisconsin's public and private universities among the nation's finest, I will continue to support fiscally responsible efforts to increase access and contain costs for higher education. I will lead the fight against restrictive federal mandates that hinder Wisconsin's ability to keep our institutions of learning among the best.