I am a firm believer in the importance and power of education. Universal access to quality education is one of my top priorities in Congress: improving education from Pre-K through college, both in Sacramento and nationwide. This is why I have supported legislation such as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Education, Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act during the 111th Congress. I also supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has pumped more than $184 million into our local school districts over the past two years.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed as part of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act in March of 2010, reorganized the student loan system so that all student loans originate from the government's Direct Lending program and no longer have to go through private companies. This legislation will save taxpayers an estimated $100 billion over the next 10 years in taxpayer subsidies that would have gone to private lenders. And by reinvesting some of those savings back into the Pell grant program, we will be increasing funding from $44 million to $100 million in Pell grants for Sacramento students alone. This will also lead to an increase in the maximum Pell grant award. Moreover, savings from the Direct Lending program will keep student interest rates low, expand early education, and invest over $10 billion back into our community colleges.
I am committed to making sure that high school graduates have access to an affordable college education. In order to cultivate a well-trained, competitive workforce that is capable of keeping abreast of the dynamic global market, the dream of a college education must be within the reach of every qualified student.
H.R. 1586, the Education, Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, provides $10 billion in grants to state and local governments to save an estimated 161,000 education jobs. Sacramento area school districts have reported that they would need to lay off 1,300 employees in the 2010-2011 school year without federal assistance. H.R. 1586 will prevent a number of these layoffs from occurring and put many teachers who have already lost their jobs back to work.
Federal funding is helping to close the gap that has been created as a result of state and local budget cuts. And local educators and administrative staff have done a wonderful job applying for new grant opportunities in difficult times. Some grants of note include:
* The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency was granted $2 million for the Sacramento Early Head Start Program. The Early Head Start program is a national effort to bring prenatal and early childhood care to low-income families, amongst which Sacramento is a leader in services. SETA also received $225,000 to provide training and support to Head Start teachers. Head Start is an important Pre-K educational program that furnishes low-income students with the fundamental skills needed to start Kindergarten on track to succeed.
* The Foundation for California Community Colleges was awarded $10,944,843 to provide outreach, training, and learning support to increase digital literacy and broadband usage. The Foundation for California Community Colleges project focuses on providing lower-income students with laptops and software training, and developing an open source online digital literacy course available to students and their families at libraries and other public computer centers. In this digital age of computers and online resources, increasing broadband literacy and access is an important step towards insuring success, both as a student and a future member of the workforce. As a member of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Caucus in Congress, I am especially pleased to help increase technology usage and understanding in Sacramento.
* Sacramento has also received several Department of Education grants. For example, American River Community College was awarded $220,000 to support low-income, first generation or disabled students to ensure that they remain in school and have the tools necessary to succeed. And Sacramento State University received $275,940 for their Student Support Services Program, which provides assistance to low-income, first-generation, or disabled college students in order to ensure they remain in school and graduate.
* The Los Rios Community College District was granted $5 million to expand medical training programs through the establishment of a HealthForce Institute.
I hope that you find the below links helpful to you and your family, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.