Human capital is our most important asset. Productivity, prosperity and progress all hinge on education. Our nation's policies must reflect the value of education and the importance of our educators.
As Connecticut's Attorney General, I've fought for the children of our state, working to ensure that every child can learn in a safe and nurturing environment:
* Protecting Students from Neglect and Abuse. Working with the Connecticut Child Advocate, I investigated Connecticut's failure to prevent schools from hiring individuals accused of misconduct. Our final report contained more than 30 recommendations for improving how our state protects children in educational settings.
* Reducing the Potential for School Violence. We must enforce a zero tolerance policy for violence in our schools. I have consistently supported both local and federal legislation designed to do everything possible to protect our children from the tragic possibility of school violence.
* Protecting Children with Special Needs. I have also sought to protect the rights of some of our most defenseless citizens, urging the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt certification requirements for the behavioral specialists who are employed by our special education schools to work with autistic children.
It is vital that all students have the opportunity to attend a great school, and as your U.S. Senator, I will work to ensure they can. Across the nation, states and the federal government are working in good faith to find a way to achieve this long-sought goal. As your U.S. Senator, I will join this fight, working to reform education, improve student achievement, and train, recruit, and reward the best and brightest teachers.
* Reforming No Child Left Behind. We need to reform the No Child Left Behind ("NCLB") Act so that we close student achievement gaps and improve student performance. While the goals of NCLB are important, the means to achieving the goals need to be reconsidered. Measuring success solely through standardized tests fails to take into account the full extent of the teacher-student relationship and the sometimes incremental steps by which students learn. I will fight for a law that recognizes that standardized tests should be only one tool in a comprehensive set of tools for measuring student progress.
* Full Funding for Federal Education Programs. We must ensure that the federal government adheres to its promise to fully fund elementary and secondary education. As Attorney General, I represented 109 Connecticut school districts in challenging the No Child Left Behind's unfunded mandate. In the Senate, I will fight for federal education laws that will finally give our teachers the resources they need -- the resources they've been promised for so many years -- to do right by their students.
* Restoring the Teaching Profession. We need to restore the profession of teaching to the level of social significance that it deserves. We must ensure that teachers have continuous access to the mentorship and high-quality professional development programs that they need to hone their skills, because teacher learning leads to student learning. Professional curriculum development and improved means for gauging teacher performance are also vitally important. But these efforts will be useless if they are not designed and implemented based on full collaboration with teachers themselves.
* Improving Early Education. The foundation for a student's success is established during a child's early years, and we need to place significant emphasis on the involvement of parents in a student's education. We must also improve access to early education programs such as Head Start and Jump Start. And creating a culture of education within families is essential to preparing a student for public education.
* Promoting Innovation in Elementary and Secondary Education. We need to promote innovation in education that allows students to receive the education that best meets their needs. Initiatives like Connecticut's CommPACT program and successful charter school efforts like the Amistad Academy in New Haven are just two examples of how we can successfully create new educational environments that assist even those students who are hardest to reach.
* Ending Disparities in Performance and Access to College. At the primary and secondary school level, we need to close achievement gaps and improve dropout rates. I agree with national advocates who believe we must make high school graduation a national priority. I also support vocational training programs which provide non-college bound students with the skills to enter and compete in the workplace, but I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college. We must ensure that all low-income and middle-class students who share this aspiration have the opportunity to attend a public university or community college without being saddled with debt. This is why I support a permanent college tax credit for middle-class families who would otherwise struggle with the high costs of today's tuition.