Issue Position: Education
"Investing in education is the most important investment we can make." -Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator
Creating More College Opportunities
The cost of attending college has risen almost four times faster than median incomes over the past 20 years, making college unaffordable for millions of New Yorkers.
Senator Gillibrand believes that a good education is a critical foundation for future success. To make college more affordable and open the doors of higher education to more hardworking students, Senator Gillibrand co-sponsored the Pathways to College Act, legislation that authorizes competitive five-year grants to local education agencies that serve high-need high schools to increase the number of students from low-income families who attend college.
Senator Gillibrand also authored the bipartisan Roosevelt Scholars Act to attract more experts in high-tech fields to careers in public service by creating a civilian ROTC program that offers full tuition toward an undergraduate or graduate degree in critical fields, such as science, engineering, public health, information technology, foreign languages and law in exchange for a commitment to federal service.
And with student debt at an all time high, Senator Gillibrand took action by sponsoring the College Affordability Tax Relief Act to allow families to deduct up to $10,000 of the cost of college tuition from their federal taxes, and helped pass legislation that increases the amount of Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 70,000 New York students who are eligible for Pell Grants.
Promoting STEM Education at All Levels of Education
The fastest growing occupations over the last decade require expertise in the fields of science and technology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But less than one-third of American students are proficient in math and science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. And much of our existing high-tech workforce is getting closer to retirement each day -- with more than half of Americans with science and engineering degrees at least 40 years old.
To graduate the amount of students we need in math and science to compete in the high-tech economy, Senator Gillibrand authored and introduced the Undergraduate Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Act (US STEM) Act. The legislation would establish a new program under the National Science Foundation to award 2,500 undergraduate scholarships each year for students' full tuition during their last two years at a state institution.
Improving Childhood Education
As a mother of two young children, Senator Gillibrand is a strong supporter of improving early childhood and elementary education. She voted to reauthorize and expand the Head Start program, and believes strongly that No Child Left Behind must be overhauled to support teachers and provide adequate funding for urban and rural schools that need assistance.
Keeping Our Teachers
During tough economic times and facing steep budget shortfalls, Senator Gillibrand is committed to keeping teachers in New York's classrooms. In August 2010, Senator Gillibrand helped pass legislation that delivered more than $600 million in education funding to save or create an estimated 7,100 education jobs in New York, and also introduced the Keeping our Educators Working Act to create a $23 billion education jobs fund to save nearly 20,000 education jobs in New York.