I believe the primary responsibility for educating our children lies closest to the home – in the hands of local school boards, teachers and, most importantly, parents.
I make it a point to visit regularly local elementary, middle, and high school students in their classrooms. I also meet with students, faculties, and staffs at New Jersey’s colleges and universities. It’s not only my way of keeping in touch with our young citizens, but it also keeps me current on trends and needs of New Jersey’s schools.
To give our children a brighter future, we must make sure that the federal government works closely with our state and local education officials to reach the goal of providing every child with a quality education while holding schools, teachers and students to higher standards.
S.1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which re-authorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), passed the House with my strong support, by a vote of 359-64 on December 9, 2015. ESEA is the primary existing source of federal aid to K-12 education.
There is no more important task for our communities than to educate our youth and when this bill meets its promise, the Every Student Succeeds Act will restore more local control, reduce the federal footprint in our nation's classrooms, support teachers and empower parents.
ESEA was previously reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Specifically, S. 1177 would make a number of comprehensive changes to NCLB to empower the states and local school boards to make the choices they feel best fit local and state needs.
S. 1177 was signed into law by the President on December 10, 2015.
In New Jersey, I continue to fight for other education needs, including special education funding, Head Start, and Title I programs. Additionally, I was proud to lead the fight and secured a victory for the first federally funded school choice program in Washington, D.C. I am committed to working to provide parents with a choice in their child’s education in New Jersey.
As part of this effort, I advocated passage of the America Competes Act, which expands Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM) education programs. The key to continuing America’s competitiveness is making sure that our young people receive the best education possible, particularly in areas like mathematics, science, and engineering.
To encourage students to pursue careers in STEM related fields, I have organized visits from N.A.S.A. astronauts, pilots of the “Hurricane Hunter” and the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to meet at local schools with students of all ages to discuss important and exciting career options.
I also support continued investment in higher education. As the cost of college rises, it is important to make sure families can afford a quality education. Most recently, Congress made available over $22 billion in funding for the Pell Grant program which provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to higher education. Over 8 million students received the grant in the 2013-2014 funding year ranging from $582 through $5,645.(most recent year reported by Department of Education)
Additionally, I am concerned about the amount of student debt that confronts many young people and their families upon graduation. For those receiving federal student loans, I encourage you to learn more by visiting this link.
I have been proud to support our local colleges and universities: William Patterson University, Montclair State University, Bloomfield College, Drew University, Farleigh Dickinson University, the College of St. Elizabeth, Caldwell University, the County College of Morris, Passaic County Community College, Sussex County Community College, Princeton, Rutgers, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Stevens Institute of Technology.
For more information about all the schools in northern New Jersey, please click here. For more information about federal education programs, please click here.
Of course, the bedrock of America’s global competitiveness is a well-educated and skilled workforce. For America to play a leading role and compete in the worldwide economy, we must aggressively improve the quality of education in America. A strong education system is in New Jersey’s self-interest. It is vital to keeping New Jersey at the center of research and development, technological innovation, and revolutionary pharmaceutical breakthroughs.