Education is the key to American opportunity and Upstate New York's future economic prosperity. In New York, we cannot expect to remain competitive on a national or global scale without strengthening public schools, community colleges and four-year institutions. I believe that we can best ensure the long-term strength of schools by taking steps to give educators the tools they need to thrive, while making higher education more affordable through tax incentives, scholarships, and Pell Grants.
During my first year in Congress, I have taken steps to ensure that children in New York's 23rd Congressional District will be provided with a strong education foundation. I supported New York's Race to the Top application, which resulted in more than $4 million in immediate assistance to area schools, and I have urged New York State's Education Commissioner to engage with local teachers, parents, principals, school boards and community stakeholders as the State moves forward with implementation these funds. I believe a bottom-up approach that incorporates the views of local communities is critical to ensuring that both educators and parents have a voice in the process.
On the college level, I believe institutions of higher education can remain on the cutting edge of technology with continued support. I have visited many area colleges and universities, both SUNY and private, and have been impressed from what I have seen. Schools across the district offer training in emerging fields that will provide jobs and keep Upstate New York's best and brightest here at home. However, to have these programs in Upstate New York is not enough; we must also keep these programs affordable and rein in rising tuition costs.
These days, many things can affect the quality of a student's education. From infrastructure improvements to access to cutting-edge technology, I plan to work with officials from state and local governments to ensure that schools and teachers have the right resources to prepare every student -- from kindergarten to college graduates -- for a prosperous life in Upstate New York.