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Issue Position: Education

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Our country's future depends on making a quality education available to our children, giving them the knowledge and skills to provide for their families and contribute to their communities. With the rise of India and China, our children need the tools to compete in a global economy. As a father of three young children, I am committed to improving our nation's education system and forming partnerships among families, schools, and the government to nourish and foster young minds. That is why I have joined many of my colleagues in supporting a number of legislative initiatives to enhance educational opportunities for our children.

I first introduced the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act in 2007 to aid our nation's crumbling public schools. Study after study has found that where our children learn has a huge effect on what they learn. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave American schools a "D" on their Infrastructure Report Card for 2009, and the U.S. Department of Education went further, stating that over 75% of the nation's schools are in various stages of disrepair. The 21st Century Green Schools bill provides funding for the repair and modernization of school buildings and educational technology. It also provides children with a safe and healthy learning environment and the technological resources needed to compete in a global world. As you may know, the House of Representatives passed this legislation on May 14, 2009, with bipartisan support, but unfortunately, like many pieces of legislation, it was held up in the Senate.

One of my top priorities is to enact legislation that will improve the No Child Left Behind Act. This law was enacted in 2001 to strengthen academic programs for elementary and secondary schools, yet federal funding shortages have left many school districts in Kentucky and throughout the United States struggling to meet the law's requirements. We should not expect schools experiencing budget shortfalls to shift scarce funding away from teaching to meet the administrative demands of the No Child Left Behind Act.

It is imperative that all children in the public school system receive a quality education. Diverting public taxpayer money to private schools stands to make current issues such as overcrowding, teacher accountability, and development worse. Instead, I believe we must devote scarce resources toward quality initiatives that benefit all public school children, like reducing class size, providing training for our teachers, increasing investment in school technology, and increasing parental involvement in the school system.

We also need to invest in our high-quality educators; we can't just pull teachers out of the classroom to fix budget shortfalls. I couldn't stand by and watch the jobs of 2,000 Kentucky teachers get cut, so I voted for Educational Job Fund, which became law in August of 2010. Losing 2,000 Kentucky teachers would have increased class sizes in the state. There are a lot of things that education experts disagree on, but the one thing educators all agree on is smaller class sizes.

Teachers must be provided with the resources they need to offer children a quality education. I cosponsored the Teacher Tax Relief Act which increases the tax deduction used by teachers to purchase classroom supplies. The measure would also expand the deduction to include qualified professional development expenses.

Our nation has come a long way toward establishing a strong public educational system. However, we still must continue striving for improvement in order to provide every child in America with a quality education. Please be assured that I will do everything I can during my time in Congress to improve our current education system so that our country finally meets the goal of not leaving any child behind.


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