Wise investments in our children's education are crucial to our long-term economic health. Bill is proud of and grateful for the education that his children received in the public schools of Batavia, Geneva, and Aurora -- and Bill is committed to preserving and strengthening the quality of our schools, community colleges, and universities.
At a time when many are critical of our educational system -- and some are giving up on it entirely -- Bill Foster is proud and grateful that the public schools of the Fox Valley provided a strong foundation for the academic success of his children. (Bill's daughter Christine recently graduated from Stanford, and his son Billy is starting his second year at Harvard Law School). In this time of great economic stress, Bill Foster is committed to preserving and strengthening our public schools so that all of today's children have those same opportunities that his own children had. For years, Bill served on the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence, and in the U.S. Congress Bill has consistently voted to protect and strengthen our children's education.
As a scientist and businessman in high-tech manufacturing, Bill Foster understands the benefits of investments in education. In times of economic stress, Bill understands that the worst thing you can do is to compromise your children's education -- this is as short-sighted as eating your seed corn! This is why he proudly took tough votes for measures that would retain thousands of jobs in education, keeping teachers in our children's classrooms even during the worst of this economic storm.
Longitudinal studies show that the return on investment from education -- and particularly early-childhood intervention of at-risk children-- pays for itself many times over during the student's lifetime. Unfortunately, long term investments in education are among the most difficult to defend politically due to the short-term thinking of career politicians that only care about what will help them win the next election, rather than what is best for our country in the decades to come. Short-term thinking, blind ideology, and generational selfishness have gone hand-in-hand over the last decade to generate the economic crisis we are still working through.
A commitment to quality public education runs deep in Bill Foster's family. Bill's father was trained as a chemist, but spent much of his career as a civil rights lawyer. Bill's father was responsible for writing most of the enforcement language behind Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- the part that withheld federal funding from public schools that refused to racially integrate their school systems. Bill's mother ran a program that helped college students prepare for jobs in the police and criminal justice system -- and to help working cops get college educations.
One of the important lessons of this economic downturn was the enduring importance of a well-educated workforce. During the height of the economic crisis, unemployment among those with less than a high school education reached 15%, while unemployment among workers with a college education stayed below 7%. American workers are the most productive in the world, in large part because of their high levels of education. In a dynamic economy, continuing education and job training are more important than ever. That is why Bill Foster is a strong supporter of our community colleges which provide education and job training across the spectrum of available jobs.
One local initiative Bill is especially proud of is the Fab Lab -- an MIT-inspired computer-automated workplace of the future. This will be set up by Waubonsee Community College in downtown Aurora, so that kids and adults can come in, design parts on the computer, then "print" their designs to get actual, finished parts that they can hold in their hand and incorporate in new inventions.
Lowering the Cost of Education
Because of its importance to society, lowering the cost of education -- and particularly higher education -- must be a priority. In Congress, Bill Foster voted for initiatives that will significantly lower the cost of student loans, by removing subsidies to private banks that make student loans and, instead, put that money directly in the hands of students.
College costs are especially important to vets returning from overseas, and Bill was proud to vote for the GI Bill for 21st Century which will help the men and women who volunteered to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 be able to go to college for free because of their commitment to our country.
Making Textbooks Available for Free on the Internet
College textbooks costs also represent a considerable burden on students -- averaging over $1200 per year. To relieve this burden, Bill introduced H.R. 1464 - legislation to provide federal support for the development of Open-Source Textbooks -- high quality electronic textbooks that students can download for free from the internet.