Local school officials, not Washington bureaucrats, should make decisions regarding the particular educational needs of the community. I have supported reforms enacted by Congress which provide states and local school districts with flexibility in the use of funding under federal education grant programs. Under this approach, school districts may use these funds to improve school safety, increase literacy, serve students with special needs, reduce class size, hire more teachers, address school construction needs, and develop innovative approaches to education.
We need to continue to improve public education by providing states and local school districts with the tools they need to enhance the educational achievements of our children. That is why I have consistently supported legislation to increase federal funding for education, including federal funding for various loan and education programs. These include such programs as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Head Start, TRIO, Pell Grants, the Perkins Program, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (21st CCLC). These programs play a vital role in providing children and young adults with the education they deserve.
A college education is critical to ensuring that Kentucky's young people have every opportunity and advantage in their adult lives. Yet high college prices, an overly complex federal student aid application process and a struggling student loan system are putting a college degree further out of reach for too many Kentucky students. Earlier this year I was proud to cast a vote for the Higher Education Opportunity Act, important legislation which will remedy some of these problems and enable more students in the First Congressional District to attend college.
This legislation would encourage colleges to rein in price increases; restore integrity and accountability to the student loan programs; simplify the federal student aid application process; make textbook costs more manageable; expand college access and support for low-income students; increase college aid and support for veterans and military families and ensure equal college opportunities for students with disabilities. While we still have a long way to go to ensure access to college for all our children, this bill will help us tremendously in our efforts to reach this goal.
I supported the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) when it was enacted back in 2001.
The program was established to close the academic achievement gap and help all children learn by holding states and schools accountable for students' academic progress. While the program has had much success, like any new policy, it has had its share of controversy, and there are a number of provisions that need to be revised to better serve both students and teachers.
I have appreciated hearing from so many teachers in the First Congressional District as congressional review of NCLB continues. That review is focusing on a number of provisions in the NCLB Reauthorization Act that would provide flexibility to teachers and school officials; encourage a rich and challenging learning environment; promote best practices and innovation in schools throughout the country; support teachers and principals; continue to hold schools accountable for students' progress; and improve America's high schools. As Congress continues discussions about the reauthorization of NCLB, I will keep the needs and concerns of Kentucky educators in mind as we work to pass meaningful legislation that will not only improve our nation's school systems, but will also open the doors of education to all Americans.