America's economic strength and future depend on ensuing a high-quality education for all children. We must make a strong commitment to education by strengthening our schools, fully funding special education and modernizing our classrooms. We must also work to reduce class size, increase access to higher education and make sure we have the best-trained, most qualified teachers in the world.
Modernizing America's Schools
The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act would provide critical investments needed to modernize, upgrade and repair school facilities across the country -- creating healthier, safer and more energy-efficient learning environments. The bill will improve education, create jobs, and encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in our schools.
Making College More Affordable
Congress has taken significant steps toward ensuring all students have access to the opportunities of higher education. Here are just a few of those important steps that I have strongly supported:
* Boosting higher education tax credits that make college more affordable for millions of low- and moderate-income students.
* Increasing the maximum Pell Grant.
* Adding $200 million to the vital Work-Study program that supports undergraduate and graduate students who work while attending college. The increased funding will allow an additional 133,000 students to participate.
* New investments in minority serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, for critical support services that help recruit and retain students.
* Encouraging and rewarding public service by providing loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions, such as military officers, first responders, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, early childhood educators, public defenders and librarians.
Investing in Early Childhood Development
We must be committed to providing strong support for preparing our youngest children for school. Early childhood education is critical to future academic success. Congress must continue to develop new programs to improve opportunities and outcomes, engage parents in their child's early learning and development, and improve the early education workforce.
Toward those ends, I strongly support the significant steps Congress has already taken including:
* $2.1 billion in additional funding for Head Start, which provides comprehensive development services to low-income preschool children. The funding ensures services for 110,000 additional children. The funding includes $1.1 billion for the vital Early Head Start infant and toddler program. Additionally, these investments will create 50,000 new jobs, increasing the demand for early educators, transportation providers and nutrition providers.
* $2 billion in additional funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. This provides childcare services to an additional 300,000 children in low-income families so their parents can be at work.