Education is an important issue for Oregonians and the future of our country. A consistent investment in our nation’s education system is necessary to make sure we keep our economy and workforce globally competitive and to ensure the well-being of this country for generations to come.
All Americans should have access to a quality education that prepares them for the challenges they will face throughout their life. Going back to my days in the Oregon state government, I have consistently supported policies that increased investments into education and given educators the resources they need to get their job done.
Unfortunately, for too many years the U.S. has not done its part. Annual education funds as part of the federal budget rarely go over 3 percent. To add further insult, we also don’t fund our share of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. Yet Congress mandates funding levels to states forcing them to make up the difference. That’s why I am proud to co-lead a bipartisan, bicameral effort to ramp up our IDEA funding to make sure we pay what we said we would. That will help free up state education dollars for our educators to provide for other programs.
I also am a strong supporter of career and technical education (CTE) programs to teach kids necessary trade skills. These classes can excite kids by showing them different career paths through hands on learning. Last congress, I proudly cosponsored the bipartisan HR 2353, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act and was happy to see it signed into law. Now schools and educators will have innovative tools and flexibilities to start and expand successful CTE programs. This will help students learn about new careers that will give them family-wages with no student debt.
But if students do choose to pursue higher education they shouldn’t be saddled with thousands of dollars in debt. Here in Congress, we must put in place policies that increase the affordability and access of higher education to all Americans. That is why I am working with my colleagues to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) and address this crisis that has hampered thousands of borrowers. So much has changed since the last HEA passed in 2008 and any effort to reauthorize that law must reflect our present challenges.
Every American should have access to a quality education from early education to continuing education efforts. Know that I value the role that the federal government plays in our education system and will work with my colleagues to make sure our communities always have a strong partner.