Studies have consistently shown early childhood programs such as Head Start help the neediest children enter school better prepared and ready to learn. During the latest reauthorization of Head Start in 2007, Congress enhanced this vital program by improving teacher quality, expanding access, and increasing accountability. The reauthorization also included a provision I authored to end the inappropriate academic testing of four year-olds, something that has been proven ineffective and can actually do more harm than good.
While the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act successfully refocused federal education policy on raising academic achievement, it is clear that major changes are needed to the 2001 law. In particular, schools need more flexibility in how they meet accountability standards, instead of relying solely on high-stakes standardized testing. Further, we need to fully fund NCLB and other important education programs. NCLB has been consistently underfunded, forcing our nation's public schools to cut critical programs.
Since kids perform better academically when they are active during the school day, I will continue to advocate for an increased focus on physical education in the reauthorization of NCLB.
With the cost of higher education constantly increasing, many hardworking families are finding it difficult to send their kids to college. In order to compete in today's global economy; we must ensure that college remains affordable and accessible for all families. That is why I have supported legislation that increases Pell Grant scholarships, reduces interest rates on federal student loans, and provides assistance for students who commit to teaching in high-need schools.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was signed into law on March 30, 2010, will help provide Americans with affordable, quality education opportunities to help make our economy strong and competitive again. By making the single largest investment in higher education, the bill will help us produce the highest number of college graduates in history by 2020.