"I spent the better part of this week visiting middle and high schools across Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Essex counties. In fact, I stopped by nearly a dozen schools from Bloomfield to Ogdensburg, meeting with students and discussing the issues of interest to them.
"To be precise, I visited Morris Hills High School, Memorial Middle School in Woodland Park, Bloomfield High, Morristown Beard, the Haskell School in Wanaque, Hanover Park High, Pope John XXIII Regional High, Ogdensburg Middle School and two middle schools in Wayne: Anthony Wayne and George Washington.
"I make it a priority to visit local public, private, parochial and charter schools and colleges and universities year-round. This year, at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges, I have attended large public assemblies, made presentations to entire grades, conducted dialogues with specific classes and appeared in lecture halls and auditoriums.
"Topics vary. I speak to students about honoring their country and our veterans and men and women in uniform. In many settings, we talk about history and government and about their expectations for their elected representatives. Sometimes I bring an astronaut or a "hurricane hunter' along with me as part of my ongoing campaign to convince students, especially young women, that mathematics and science studies can lead to a rewarding and exciting career of great value to our nation.
"Most notably, in each one of these settings, I learn a great deal about what's on their minds these days and obtain a window into some the challenges facing their families. Furthermore, I urge them to take an interest in their government and to run for Congress or another elective office in the future!
"Invariably, students decry the negativity in Washington. They reaffirm that they want us to work on issues of consequence to their families and their future. They repeat that that they want real-world results from Congress.
"In just about every visit, I take away valuable lessons. In fact, I regularly bring these lessons down to D.C. to enlighten my colleagues in the House and Senate.
"An old TV host once wrote a book entitled, "Kids Say the Darnedest Things.' I will update that phrase by saying these days, "kids say the smartest things.'
"Once again, this week was an educational week. Please let me know if there's a school in your town that I might visit. I can't wait to resume my own education when schools re-open in September!"
The Building Block of Success: Education
The building blocks of success -- the ability for people to go out and seize opportunity -- starts with education.
Most policymakers, including Rodney Frelinghuysen, understand that concept. So does President Obama who held another "campaign-style" rally today during which he urged Congress to take action to stop student loan interest rates from rising on July 1.
Of course, student debt has become a pressing issue with many graduates looking for jobs," says CNN Money. That's why the House passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act last week -- legislation which stops student loan rates from doubling in July, fixes the student loan process long-term, and takes politicians out of the business of setting interest rates -- and it "echoes a plan [President] Obama offered in April." Here's a look:
The House voted to stop student loan rates from doubling in July: "The U.S. House of Representatives approved a GOP-backed student loan bill Thursday to address an impending July 1 interest rate hike on subsidized Stafford college loans by tying future interest rates to the market instead of allowing Washington to determine the rate." (USA Today, 5/23/13)
The House bill takes the politics out of student loans. "The Democratic-led House temporarily lowered rates in 2007, and for the last few years, Congress has struggled to deal with the reality of having the rates snap back to the higher level. Republicans said during debate that Congress needs to set a market-based formula for student loan rates and get out of the way. They said leaving Congress in control only politicizes the rates." (The Hill, 5/23/13)
It's a win for students, families, and taxpayers. "While the rate will vary from year to year, students will be able to consolidate their loans into a single package upon graduation in order to lock in a single rate. Taken together, the changes would save the government some $3.7 billion over the next decade." (Yahoo News, 5/23/13)
President Obama proposed something very similar in his recent budget. "In some respects, the Republican bill echoes a plan Obama offered in April to tie interest rates to the yield on the 10-year Treasury bill, rather than setting them via an act of Congress." (Washington Post, 5/23/13)
Recommended Reading: "Many people who buy their own health insurance could get surprises in the mail this fall: CANCELLATION NOTICES because their current policies aren't up to the basic standards of President Barack Obama's health care law." Read Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar's piece for the Associated Press here.
More Work to Do on Jobs and the Economy
Despite signs that the economy is improving, April provided us with evidence that the road to recovery will not be smooth. The Gallup Organization reported this week that more U.S. small-business owners report letting employees go than hiring them, on average, over the past year, for a net hiring index of -12 in April. Read the report here.
Recommended Reading: Kathleen Parker, writing in the Wednesday Washington Post, "War on terror isn't over just because Obama says so."
This Week's Salute:
1) Drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), have helped keep America's soldiers, Marines and sailors safer and out of harm's way and eliminated many dangerous jihadists after much attention to minimizing the loss of innocent civilians.
2) Congratulations to VFW Post 2856 in Livingston as they dedicate their new static display in front of their post on West Pleasant Avenue! Rodney was happy to work with Picatinny Arsenal to secure a 105mm howitzer for them.
3) Thank you to the men and women of the Wanaque First Aid Squad, celebrating the squad's 40th Anniversary in 2013!
Follow Rodney on Twitter: @USRepRodney