Educating our youth is the cornerstone to productive future generations of Americans and equipping them to compete in a globalized market. We must make a national commitment to education by strengthening our public K-12 schools, fully funding special education, and modernizing our classrooms. At the same time, we must enhance the ability of students to afford and attain higher education, and make sure that we have the best trained, most qualified teachers in the world.
I am proud that in the 111th Congress, we are working with a President who shares this commitment. In fact, President Obama already demonstrated his commitment to education for the 21st century, when he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on February 17, 2009. This law creates a $53.6 billon state stabilization fund to help states prevent cutbacks and layoffs in our public education system, and create jobs by modernizing schools and colleges and universities.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also provides a $500 increase for each Pell Grant scholarship recipient in the next school year, benefitting up to seven million students. In addition, this vital legislation creates a new $2,500 tuition tax credit to help an additional four million students' families pay for college.
In 2008, my colleagues and I passed the new GI Bill for the 21st Century, which restores the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. These benefits, which started August 1st, are available to an estimated 2.1 million veterans. This year, Congress also extended those college benefits to all children of fallen soldiers since 9/11 (with no minimum military service needed to qualify).
I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House and the President to provide high quality education to all of America's students, creating a nation prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.