Pelosi, House Democrats Introduce 'Strengthening Our Schools' Initiative
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman George Miller, Ranking Member on the Education and Workforce Committee, and other House Democrats today to unveil the "Strengthening Our Schools" initiative at a forum with education groups. This marked the fourth in a series of legislative initiatives that promote Democratic priorities as part of House Democrats' New Partnership for America's Future. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"As part of our new Partnership for America's Future, House Democrats today are putting forward specific steps to promote our core American value of opportunity by launching our 'Strengthening Our Schools' initiative.
"Today is Flag Day, and House Democrats pledge our allegiance to our children, to expanded opportunity, and to strengthening our schools. Democrats believe we must expand opportunity with a vibrant public education system that truly leaves no child behind. We want our young people to have the chance to go to college without going deeply into debt.
"Nothing does more to grow the economy, bring money into the treasury, and ensure that America remains competitive with world than educating the American people - early childhood education, K-12, higher education, post-graduate, and lifetime learning.
"Yet Republicans insist on tax cuts while shortchanging Head Start, No Child Left Behind, student loans and grants, and other education initiatives by billions of dollars.
"Kids are so smart. We tell them to value education, that it is critical to their self-fulfillment and crucial for our country. We tell them to value education, and yet the President and Majority in the Congress will not commit the necessary resources to their education.
"So kids hear a mixed message - they think that we truly don't value their education. And when you see what the Republicans have done to so many education initiatives, their conclusion is unfortunately, valid.
"Democrats want to do more than address these failed Republican commitments. We also propose public-private partnerships to modernize our schools and propose expanding preschool opportunities.
"We will continue fighting to give every child the opportunity to realize the American Dream. Today we propose specific steps to promote opportunity by strengthening our schools.
"We must boost college opportunity and affordability, improve teacher quality, and fully fund key education laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
"And now my colleagues will go into more detail about each of these issues."
Opportunity: Strengthening Our Schools
Today, Democrats are putting forward specific steps to promote opportunity by strengthening our schools. These steps include boosting college opportunity and affordability, improving teacher quality, and fully funding key education laws such as IDEA and NCLB. In these areas, Republicans have failed to live up to their promises and turned their backs on the needs of Americans. However, Democrats want to go further than addressing these failed Republican commitments. Democrats also propose public-private partnerships to modernize our schools and propose expanding preschool opportunities.
Boosting College Opportunity and Affordability
* Boosts college scholarships by $12 billion and Pell scholarships by as much as $1,000 per student
* Encourages states to expand college investment and to provide affordable tuition
* Creates a pilot program to boost graduation rates for non-traditional students
Improving Teacher Quality
* Improves teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention
* Provides new professional advancement and training opportunities for teachers
* Makes teacher salaries more competitive
Funding Key Education Laws
* Fully funds No Child Left Behind
* Fully funds the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
School Modernization and Safety
* Provides matching resources to local communities for the construction, modernization, and repair of safe, healthy, technology-ready schools
Expanding High Quality Preschool Opportunities
* Assists states to establish or expand high-quality voluntary state pre-kindergarten systems