Enhance Career and Technical Education opportunities in our public school system. In order to have a strong and vibrant economy, in itself a prerequisite for healthy public schools, we must be concerned about educating more people to higher levels, and providing the resources necessary for our public schools to do that. We need to fully fund Career and Technical Education State Grants, and ensure additional funding and support be included and enhanced in any Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization legislation.
We should fully fund Title 1 and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), proven federal assistance programs targeted to help our most vulnerable children. Title 1 has been historically funded at 60 percent of the original federal promise written into law, and the federal share of the excess costs of educating children with disabilities sits at 17 percent, not the 40 percent promised by IDEA. Programs like Title 1 are critical to closing the achievement gap that fall on race, ethnic and income lines. Closing that gap will both provide a pathway of economic opportunity for more individuals and serve to create a workforce that will enable us to compete in this global economy.
Early Childhood education is one of the highest return on investments we can make, and we must protect Head Start and promote quality early childhood education programs. Every teacher and educator will tell you that to optimize a child's experience in the classroom; they must first show up ready to learn. Continuing to expand Head Start to cover all eligible children should remain a top priority for Congress.
Implement common sense standards and oppose efforts to control our schools from Washington, D.C. Improving student performance and educating more people to higher levels are fundamental principles but efforts to micromanage local schools from Washington, D.C., are fraught with peril and not in keeping with our heritage of local control. While I support a common sense approach to developing standards, a one-size-fits-all approach is destined to fail.
Workforce Development and the Role of Community Colleges
As we struggle out of this very difficult economic recession, opportunities are desperately needed for people to be educated and trained at higher levels. Community colleges serve a critical role in retraining current workers for new positions in emerging industries and should be supported. People want to learn, and businesses need qualified and trained employees to grow. Additionally, Congress can reauthorize the Workforce Development Act with incentives for regional development and collaboration of training programs, allowing communities to invest in workforce training that directly supports specific local economic and industry needs.