Together, we must ensure that our schools are able to raise academic standards, we close the achievement gap, and that all students have a highly qualified teacher. We also need to do more to make higher education affordable for all Americans. A quality college degree has always been the cornerstone of the American dream, opening the door to job opportunity and the chance to move up in society. As the senior Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of Education, our children’s education is one of Rosa’s top priorities.
Supporting Early Childhood Education
Investing in our children in their early years enhances their development and leads to success in later years. Rosa has fought to increase funding for Head Start, the most effective early childhood development program ever developed. Head Start has provided comprehensive development, literacy, and family services to more than 20 million pre-schoolers from working families. She has also worked to promote an early learning focus in the Race to the Top program and has established the bi-partisan Congressional Baby Caucus to focus public policy on the healthy development of infants and toddlers.
Increasing Federal Funding for Elementary and Secondary Education
Rosa believes that ensuring our public schools are given the resources and the support they need is among government’s central obligations. She has worked hard to prevent teacher layoffs and fully fund Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, and afterschool programs.
Rosa believes that educating the whole child means more than teaching to meet the requirements of a test. She fought to reform the No Child Left Behind Act to provide states with more flexibility in measuring student achievement and last year voted to enact the Every Student Succeeds Act to help our students in greatest need of support. Rosa strongly supports teachers, which includes providing teachers with strong preparation and professional development and valuing the work that they do each day.
Expanding Access to Higher Education and Making It More Affordable
To make college more affordable, Rosa has fought to raise the maximum Pell Grant award. Due to increases in tuition and fees, Pell Grants do not cover as many credit hours as they did previously. The Pell Grant provides funds to more than nine million low-income undergraduate students, with over 75 percent of recipients having family incomes below $30,000. With Rosa’s support, the maximum Pell Grant award is now $5,815, up more than $1,500 since 2008.
Rosa has also worked to curb the rise in student debt by calling on Congress to keep student loan interest rates low and close financial aid loopholes being exploited by for-profit institutions.
As more students and families are concerned about the rising cost of higher education, apprenticeships are a valuable resource for students and employers. Not only do students receive on-the-job training while earning a paycheck, they come into the workplace with fully developed skills that are beneficial to employers. Rosa strongly supports expanding and growing apprenticeship programs to enable more students to participate and has fought for additional funding in the Appropriations process.