Issue Position: Education
Investing in our education system is essential to ensuring Ohio's future. By investing in Ohio's youth and young people from all over the nation, we prepare and help produce the leaders of tomorrow. For many, a quality education is a path out of poverty and disenfranchisement. I am committed to providing every American with the opportunity to receive a quality education, from pre-kindergarten to college or vocational school to job training programs.
Early Childhood Education
Providing students with the right start in school has been shown to increase their academic performances later in life. This is one of the major reasons why I strongly support the Head Start program.
Head Start serves children and their families through education, health care, nutrition, social and emotional development, literacy, social services and parental involvement opportunities. These services help children in the most challenging life circumstances enter kindergarten ready to learn.
In Ohio, Head Start provides tens of thousands of children with a safe learning environment, while encouraging parents to be involved in their children's education. Congress must increase overall funding for the program, especially funding for Early Head Start and teacher education. I introduced the Early Childhood Education Professional Development and Career System Grants Act, a bill that would increase funding for early childhood teachers to receive better training and attend certificate training programs. By giving our children an early start we can give them the best opportunity to learn and be successful in life.
Elementary and Secondary Education
Five years ago, Congress made a promise to teach every child in America with The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Enacted in 2001, it was designed to add important accountability provisions to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and required states to set clear timelines for improving student achievement. Unfortunately, the necessary resources have yet to be allocated to ensure NCLB's success. The 2008 budget proposed by the President would under fund the No Child Left Behind Act by $14.8 billion. This would create a cumulative shortfall of $70.9 billion since NCLB was enacted into law.
In Ohio, there are nearly 700 schools designated as being in need of improvement and required under the law to take corrective action. States must be given federal assistance so they can properly conduct all the testing required by NCLB and implement corrective actions for their schools.
Since coming to the Senate, I have worked for meaningful reform of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) to add fairness to the process by which student progress and schools are measured, direct resources to where they are needed most, and add a greater degree of flexibility to the teacher certification process. I will continue to fight for full funding of NCLB and for every child in America who deserves a quality education and a chance at success in life.
The cost of college has skyrocketed in recent years - doubling since 1980 and rising faster than inflation for 20 consecutive years. College tuition has risen faster than the price of any other consumer item, including health care. In Ohio, between the years 2001 and 2007, tuition and fees increased 67% at public universities and 54% at two year public institutions. As a result, students are saddled with an average debt that is between $15,000-$20,000, depending on the institution they attend. The purchasing power of the Pell Grant for low-income students had dropped dramatically and students are finding it harder to figure out a way to attend college.
As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), I am dedicated to helping make college affordable for those Ohioans who want to attend. I am working to restore Perkins Loan Program funds and to increase funding for Pell Grants.
The Senate recently considered a higher education package that would increase student aid, including Pell Grants, and protect student borrowers with a combination of lender reforms and debt management tools. I introduced a bill creating a Federal Supplemental Loan program that would offer students an alternative to high interest rate private loans and save them millions of dollars. I will continue to make sure student access to college is the motivation behind any federal action on higher education.