Congressman Maurice Hinchey firmly believes that education and job training pave the way to a brighter future for all Americans. Improving our schools and providing access to higher education have been top priorities throughout his life in public service. Hinchey knows that quality education is important to families - and should be important to Congress. He voted to make college more affordable by providing tuition tax credits, increased Pell grants, and HOPE scholarships. He has worked for higher standards in public schools, investments in school facilities, smaller class sizes and better access to technology.
Our schools are struggling to provide quality education in the face of crumbling facilities, overcrowding, and poor access to technology. Hinchey is a sponsor of legislation to make a $22 billion investment in our education infrastructure, so that communities will be able to afford the repairs and expansion they need. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he has fought for funding to put 100,000 well-trained teachers in our classrooms. Hinchey believes that we must improve access to technology for our students so that they will have the skills they need in today's workforce. That's why he fought to save from elimination a program that helps upgrade computer facilities. He has also been a strong advocate for the "e-rate" program, which provides low rates for Internet hook-ups to schools and libraries.
We must prepare our students to meet the challenges of the global economy. That's why Hinchey has fought for and demanded national academic standards in the basics. He also realizes that small class sizes are key to student achievement, especially in the early grades. That's why he supports legislation to help lower the national average class size to 18 students per class, first in grades 1-3, and then progressing through all the elementary and secondary grades.
Congressman Hinchey knows that a college degree or other advanced training is essential for our children to succeed. He believes the federal government can help make that possible through student loans, grants and tax breaks to help families pay for higher education. He worked for the establishment of the direct student loan program, which makes borrowing for college easier and less expensive for students, and he has voted to maintain low interest rates on student loans. Hinchey voted for the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which expanded higher education assistance through tuition tax credits, higher Pell grants, and the HOPE scholarship program that puts a community college education within reach of every family.
To improve our schools, we must ensure that every student is healthy, safe and ready to learn--not afraid of drugs, alcohol and crime. Hinchey fought attempts to eliminate the successful Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program and has cosponsored legislation to keep schools open for learning, recreation and tutoring programs in the crucial after-school hours when young people are most likely to get into trouble or be the victims of crime.
Hinchey believes that the current property tax method for funding public schools denies many students an equal education--and puts an unfair burden on homeowners. Hinchey welcomes a serious discussion of alternative, more equitable methods we can work toward. Hinchey strongly opposes school voucher programs, which would improve a few schools at the expense of all the others and would widen the gap between the haves and have-nots.