As a former teacher in the New York City public-school system, I know firsthand the tremendous impact that a quality education provides to students. Unfortunately, the previous Administration never adequately addressed budget shortfalls in America's schools. As a result, teachers often would purchase supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets -- a noble but expensive act. I have continually supported legislation that would make such purchases completely tax deductible.
One of the first acts passed by the Democratic Congress once President Obama was sworn into office last year was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). I was proud to support ARRA, which provided unprecedented funding to America's schools after eight years of the Bush Administration ignoring funding gaps in America's education system. To date, New York's schools have received nearly $6 billion in ARRA funds to purchase textbooks and supplies for students, hire teachers, and maintain extracurricular activities. As our nation recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression, ARRA has ensured that our children's educations do not suffer.
I have also fought for relief for American families from the rising cost of college tuition. As the cost of a college education has continued to increase, more and more students -- and their parents -- are becoming saddled with debt from substantial student loans. I was pleased that the Democratic Congress passed, with my strong support, legislation that cut interest rates in half on federally-subsidized student loans, making a college education more affordable and more accessible. In the United States of America, every child deserves a quality education, and anybody who seeks a college or graduate degree should be able to obtain one without becoming buried in debt.