From educating our children to promoting fair environments for working mothers, policies that strengthen our families are the most important investments we can make for the future of our country.
Education is the basis of a child's future. We need to look at ways to improve outcomes of students and support teachers and staff who are committed to providing the best education possible. It was an honor to support Tennessee's Race to the Top Grant in 2010. We're already seeing promising results from this incredible opportunity for Tennessee. Secretary of State Arne Duncan even called Tennessee's results "remarkable." But we still have more work to do to ensure every child has a chance at a good education. Higher education is also important in our global society, and I support policies to help keep college affordable. If you know someone considering college, encourage them to visit my Student Financial Aid Center.
Women are vital to today's workforce, and we need to do a better job promoting equality in the workplace. Gender should never affect compensation; most Americans believe in equal pay for equal work and an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. Unfortunately, women today make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and in some states the discrepancy is worse. Women and men need to be compensated fairly and equally. That's why I co-sponsored and voted for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became law in 2009. I am also a cosponsor of both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Equal Rights Amendment to help end discrimination in this country on the basis of gender, race and sexual orientation. I'm also a co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to ensure pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. This bill would allow common-sense accommodations so that pregnant workers can protect their families and not risk losing their jobs.
Another major challenge we face for the future is reforming our foster care system--a system that I believe is the most broken area of federal law. I've supported many bills and laws to improve outcomes in foster care and am working on a book about these issues. I'm also a long-time and current Advisory Board member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Though Congress has made some progress on these issues, it has been largely incremental. America's abused and neglected children are our greatest national tragedy, and we need the ideas of a new generation of reformers to solve these serious problems. Middle Tennessee has some of the finest foster care and adoption advocates, and it's an honor to recognize our local "Angels in Adoption" every year in Washington. I remain committed to work with our local "Angels" and my colleagues on foster care and adoption reforms that lie ahead.