Strengthening our system of public education and improving access to higher education will help to rebuild our economy and improve the quality of life in our communities. Public schools play an important role in Oregon and across the country, and I am working with my colleagues to reauthorize portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), to ensure our schools, teachers, and administrators have sufficient resources to best serve their students. As a member of the Congressional TRIO Caucus, I also fight for funding to protect the early childhood and college readiness programs that are crucial to the success of low-income students. At the same time, I will oppose the continuation of policies that overemphasize standardized testing or punitive labeling of struggling schools. Adequate funding and less “teaching to the test” will not only lead to improved graduation rates and greater access to college and technical schools, but it will provide countless rewards for our economy as students are better prepared to enter the workforce.
Providing our children with a well-rounded education should be a core goal of our education system. A good education consists of more than just reading and math; the arts, physical education, science, history, and electives all play important roles in helping students find their passions and succeed academically. I am a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, which supports arts education in schools; a cosponsor of the No Child Left Inside Act, which promotes environmental literacy programs for K-12 students; and a strong advocate of the Carol White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Program, which provides critical support to physical education programs across the country.
Just as every child should have the opportunity for success in K-12 education, higher education should be available and affordable. As a community college graduate and member of the Community College Caucus, I know how important it is to make higher education accessible. I have fought for robust funding for Pell Grants, cosponsored legislation to prevent the doubling of Stafford loan interest rates, and consistently opposed efforts to cut financial aid for the poor and middle class. The growing amount of loan debt and default faced by graduates is a serious problem that hinders economic recovery. Additionally, I am a cosponsor of the Graduate Success Act, which will provide graduates with temporary relief from repayment during periods of unemployment.
The future of our economy will rely on an educated workforce to create and fill the jobs of the 21st century. As a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, I work to ensure that today’s K-12 and higher education programs meet our country’s future needs, especially in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math) fields that produce skilled workers and creative thinkers.